A federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment that now accuses a Laguna Beach man of defrauding victims out of more than $3 million in an investment fraud scam related to green energy.
Peter Heinrich Conrad Reinert, 61, was arrested in April 2015 after a grand jury charged him in two investment fraud schemes that allegedly caused $3.6 million in losses. Since that time, federal authorities have continued to investigate Reinert for additional crimes.
According to the 35-count superseding indictment filed yesterday in United States District Court, in addition to the two scams outlined in the 2015 indictment, Reinert ran a third scheme out of the Irvine-based Income from Waste Corporation (IFW). Reinert told victims that IFW was developing a technology to convert used tires into oil. As part of the scheme, to gain legitimacy with victims, Reinert falsely claimed to be a United States Secret Service agent and a veteran.
Between January 2014 and his arrest on April 14, 2015, Reinert used IFW to fraudulently obtain $3.2 million dollars from victims from across the country, including a family of farmers in Missouri. Instead of spending the money to develop the purported green energy technology, Reinert used the money to pay for personal expenses and luxury automobiles, sales commissions and purchases at Apple’s iTunes store, as well as sending money to an account in Poland.
In addition to the IFW scam, the superseding indictment alleges that Reinert fraudulently obtained and used a United States passport in the name “Peter Michael Berger” after falsely claiming he was born in Maine. During the investigation, authorities learned that Reinert actually was born in Germany.
Finally, the superseding grand jury adds charges alleging that Reinert failed to file a corporate tax return for 2010 for another company he controlled, Green Energy Enterprises, Inc.
“This defendant is charged with operating a series of fraudulent companies, falsely claiming that the companies were good investments,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Worse still, Mr. Reinert’s schemes preyed upon his victims’ desire to contribute to the public good, either by improving the environment or increasing the security of identification documents. This defendant’s fraudulent activity was widespread and harmed victims across the United States.”
Reinert has been in custody without bond since he was arrested on the original 14-count indictment, which alleges he fraudulently raised money for two other companies that were purportedly developing technology to increase gas mileage and prevent the counterfeiting of government-issued identity documents. The original charges were included as part of the superseding indictment.
“These latest allegations against Mr. Reinert suggest he is a serial con artist who continues to cheat investors into funding his schemes and his lifestyle,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Field Office. “Investors can verify federal and military employment and, in many cases, the legitimacy of an investment, by doing research before handing over their savings.”
The superseding indictment, which alleges that victims cumulatively suffered losses of approximately $6.8 million, charges Reinert with 19 counts of wire fraud, 13 counts of mail fraud, two counts of passport fraud, and one misdemeanor tax count.
Reinert is expected to be arraigned on the superseding indictment in United States District Court in Santa Ana on August 8. United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton previously ordered Reinert to stand trial on September 20.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The fraud charges for the investment scams each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The passport fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years. The charge of failure to file a tax return carries a statutory maximum penalty of one year.
The investigation into Reinert was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vibhav Mittal of the Santa Ana Branch Office.