Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldDecember 16, 2013
A controversial biofuels company will no longer be a Port of Pasco tenant.
Green Power CEO Michael Spitzauer, who was federally indicted last week for his alleged role in defrauding investors, did not make the port’s Monday deadline to pre-pay its six-month lease.
Spitzauer, who has pleaded innocent in U.S. District Court to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering, remains in federal custody in Yakima.
His bail hearing, which was rescheduled for Monday, was postponed again until Friday, according to court officials.
He is accused of defrauding investors of at least $6.7 million in the past seven years, although his debts reportedly total at least $21.4 million, according to court documents.
The Kennewick man claims to have developed technology to turn municipal waste into biofuels, although he never finished building a plant in the Port of Pasco’s Big Pasco Industrial Park. The state Department of Ecology closed the unfinished plant in 2009 because he lacked the necessary air quality permits.
Prior to the indictment, Port of Pasco commissioners had given Spitzauer until 3:30 p.m. Monday to pay his six-month lease, starting Jan. 1.
Now that Spitzauer missed the deadline, Randy Hayden, the port’s deputy executive director, said Green Power’s lease will be automatically terminated as of Dec. 31.
If Spitzauer has not moved out of the port’s facilities by Dec. 31, Hayden said the port will expeditiously begin the process to evict the company.
Spitzauer currently rents a fabrication building, a warehouse bay and the land where he was building the plant, Hayden said.
When Green Power was almost evicted earlier this year, port officials found garbage, hay, mulch and mice in the facilities. Hayden said port officials inspected the rented space in October and found that it was cleaned up.
Spitzauer currently does not owe the port any money. Hayden said the port has a $300,000 deposit that can be used to clean up the site and remove equipment if Spitzauer does not vacate the premises by Dec. 31.
Green Power’s office telephone number went directly to voicemail on Monday. And the Herald was unable to reach Spitzauer’s attorney.
Spitzauer is charged with taking deposits from companies in Texas, British Columbia, Slovenia and Ireland and from an Australian citizen with the intent of not complying with the terms the agreements, according to court documents.
Instead, he used the money to buy a $1 million Kennewick home, repay previous investors and pay for furniture, personal expenses, private school tuition and donations, sports tickets and memorabilia, legal fees and Green Power business expenses, according to court documents.
He also is accused of stealing the identity of an attorney in Washington, making up emails and letters claiming investors’ deposits were being maintained in accounts and accruing interest, according to court documents.
In Spitzauer’s recent Chapter 7 bankruptcy case — which was closed in October without erasing his debts — his creditors claim he owes them about $21.4 million.
Only about $44,200 was divided among the 14 companies and agencies who filed claims, according to court documents.
Spitzauer also owes $42,000 to the state Department of Ecology for the unfinished biofuels plant. He and Green Power also owe the state Department of Labor & Industries more than $35,000 for unpaid wage claims and penalties and more than $80,400 for unpaid workers compensation premiums.