U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald has announced a federal indictment charging Kerry Dale Kisslinger, former owner and CEO of Minnesota-based ES Windpower Inc., with five counts of wire fraud in a $1 million fraud scheme.
According to the indictment, Kisslinger, 58, marketed his company’s wind turbines as a way for customers to save money by reducing or even eliminating their energy expenses. ES Windpower sold wind turbines to farmers, ranchers and others in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.
Beginning in 2012 until 2015, Kisslinger allegedly devised and executed a scheme to defraud ES Windpower customers by falsely representing that in exchange for payment, he and his company would deliver and install a wind turbine on the customers’ farms or land.
As alleged in the indictment, ES Windpower had a distribution agreement with an undisclosed North Dakota-based wind turbine manufacturer (Company A). The terms of the distribution agreement required ES Windpower to provide Company A with a purchase order, contract and 30% down payment for each new order. The balance of the purchase price was due when Company A delivered the product to ES Windpower. Oftentimes, however, Kisslinger allegedly failed to send the down payment to Company A and other manufacturers to purchase the wind turbines or otherwise complete any work on the project. On other occasions, Kisslinger remitted some of the down payment to the manufacturer but did not complete the ordering process, the indictment claims.
Also, as alleged in the indictment, Kisslinger regularly used some or all of the customers’ payments for personal use and benefit, including to make a $45,000 down payment on the purchase of a lakefront home in Emmons, Minn., and to purchase Minnesota Timberwolves season tickets. At times, he also solicited a second payment from his customers by falsely representing that all or part of their wind turbine was ready to be shipped and installed, despite knowing that he had not placed the orders or made the down payments to the manufacturer.
According to the indictment, Kisslinger also falsely represented to some of his customers that each turbine ordered would be protected by a $100,000 bond, which would be used to refund their money if ES Windpower were unable to complete the delivery and installation. Kisslinger falsely told customers that his failure to deliver and install their wind turbines was due to manufacturing delays, but in reality, he knew the delays were caused by his own failure to complete the ordering process and remit his customers’ down payments to the manufacturers, the indictment alleges, adding that in total, Kisslinger fraudulently solicited and received more than $1 million in payments from customers.
According to Kisslinger’s LinkedIn profile, he served at ES Windpower from December 2010 to May 2015 and now works as a sales manager at Mass Mutual.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Thompson is prosecuting the case.