Publish date:

Energy company CEO charged with theft-by-swindle totaling $1M

He's accused of making 'false promises' to provide and install solar panels.
Author:
Solar power

The former owner and CEO of a solar energy and thermal installation company has been charged with defrauding clients across Minnesota to the tune of more than $1 million.

Michael Harvey, 41, of River Falls, is charged with "cheating" 53 clients out of more than $1 million by making "false promises" of installing solar panels via his company, Able Energy, in 2017 and 2018.

He was charged following an 18-month investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau, which also involved the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s Construction Codes and Licensing Division.

The criminal complaint against Harvey says he was responsible for the finances at Able Energy, acting as the signer for its bank accounts and most of the checks withdrawn from accounts.

He allegedly encouraged his sales team to incentivize customers by saying they would move up in the queue if they paid more upfront, which was done so he could "prop up his failing business" by using the cash they put up early.

Per the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, he would also tell his sales team to make inaccurate statements about a client's contract, such as start dates, and continued to push his staff to solicit more sales even when workers raised concerns about completing projects.

Harvey blamed a lack of material for solar panels as a reason for why projects were being delayed, and while its supplier did suffer a brief delay in the middle of the year, the main reason for the delays to clients was Able Energy's inability to pay for the panels needed to complete projects, even when materials were readily available.

It also took advantage of solar power incentive programs such as Minnesota Power's "SolarSense" rebate offer. It signed up for a flurry of projects in 2017, but by the end of the year 10 of those didn't meet the required deadline, and five more were likely to miss their deadlines.

As a result, Minnesota Power stopped SolarSense applications from Able Energy that same month, but Harvey alleged continued to solicit SolarSense projects, applying for the rebates under an "assetless and defunct company of Harvey’s called Financed Energy LLC."

He kept the company's financial problems hidden from colleagues, the charges say, and by the end of June 2018, all of the company's business accounts were either empty, overdrawn, or closed.

Next Up

Pexels - beer outside patio brewery

Brewery, taproom moving into former Twin Cities newspaper space

Loons Landing officially signed the lease this week.

Vic Richfield auto theft PD - rectangle crop

Police: Car with dog inside stolen from outside Twin Cities liquor store

They're asking people to be on the lookout for the vehicle.

John Hofer - Chisago County Sheriff's Office

Murder charge filed over inmate's death at Chisago Co. Jail

The man suddenly became unresponsive and died while in a holding cell.

reproductive rights caucus

Minnesota DFL lawmakers form Reproductive Freedom Caucus

The move comes as some Republicans explore proposals to limit abortion access.

Flickr - child wearing mask close up - Nenad Stojkovic

Counties without K-12 mask mandate see sharper rise in child COVID cases

That's according to a new study released Friday by the CDC.

Police lights

Bloomington woman dies in crash on southwest Twin Cities highway

The collision happened just south of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival grounds.

Wikimedia Commons - COVID vaccine, pfizer, shot - Martin G

Pfizer booster shots immediately available for select Minnesotans

118 fully vaccinated Minnesotans have died from COVID-19.

Gisela Medina Sherburne County Jail - 2021.09.23 - crop 2

19-year-old charged alongside Anton Lazzaro pleads not guilty

She's accused of helping the GOP operative traffic underage girls.

Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook misses Vikings practice on Friday

Cook suffered an ankle injury during the Cardinals game.

GetMedia (1)

Gallery: Historic church renovated into home is yours for $248,000

The church-turned-home offers an open floor plan in the heart of Howard Lake.

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen  - YouTube screengrab

MN GOP Rep. spreads voted fraud disinformation, draws rebuke from SoS

The lawmaker cited a video claiming there are more than 1.2 million "missing" votes.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 11.45.12 AM

Minnesota drywall company charged with major swindle scheme

The construction company intentionally categorized employees as contractors.

Charges: Mayo Clinic staffer's mileage swindle cost hospital $72,000

The 50-year-old has been charged with theft-by-swindle.

money, cash, $100

Charges: Defense lawyer swindled client out of $15,000

She claimed he faced 15-20 years in prison.

money, cash, $100

MN man charged with fraudulently obtaining $841,000 in COVID-19 PPP loans

He applied for the loans for a business that had been shut down in 2018.

money, cash, $100

Former clerk charged with embezzling $650K in Township funds

The 70-year-old is accused of misappropriating funds.

Tamara Gretz

Charges: Employee stole $470K to support her essential oils firm

The 49-year-old has a history of fraud and theft.

court gavel

8 people charged in Medicaid fraud scheme totaling $860K

Collectively, they're charged with 46 counts of felony theft.

Charges: Fridley man's telemarketing scam netted $10M

He ran a call center out of Chaska that duped people into signing up for magazine subscriptions.