Stehl’s co-defendant convicted of fraud

A California man has been convicted of federal fraud charges for his role in a multi-million-dollar investment scheme that prosecutors say his co-defendant started in Saranac Lake.

Richard M. Rossignol, 63, who now resides in Shingle Springs, Calif., was convicted last week of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The jury took less than six hours to reach a verdict following a seven-week trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Rossignol faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Judge Audrey B. Collins scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 16.

Rossignol and Saranac Lake native William A. Stehl, 69, were arrested in Oxnard, Calif., four years ago after they were indicted in New York on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Stehl was also charged with tax evasion and lying to federal agents.

The conspiracy count alleged that from 2001 through March 2010, Stehl, Rossignol and others lured victims to invest money in companies that were purportedly developing an alternative energy source using technology Stehl claimed he had invented. Two of those companies, Rainbow Technologies and BGX Technologies, were formed in New York and operated out of the town of Harrietstown’s airport business park in Lake Clear when Stehl lived in Saranac Lake from 2000 to 2005.

Prosecutors say Stehl and Rossignol bilked more than $7 million from more than 300 victims across the country, including in Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif., Charleston, W. Va. and New York. None of the investors received the returns promised by Stehl and Rossignol, and prosecutors say the two used most of the money for personal expenditures.

The indictment was originally filed in the Northern District of New York, but in October 2012, the case was transferred to the Central District of California to accommodate Stehl, who received gruesome injuries in an explosion at a building in Sylmar, Calif., on Aug. 9, 2011. The accident severed Stehl’s left arm below his elbow, and he suffered burns to 40 percent of his torso, two broken legs and other injuries.

In November 2013, Judge Collins dismissed the tax evasion charges against Stehl, which had claimed he didn’t pay nearly $75,000 in income tax owed to the federal government, because they weren’t filed within a six-year statute of limitations.

At the same time, the judge granted a request by Stehl’s attorneys to have a separate trial for him. Stehl is now scheduled to go to trial on July 22.

Rossignol is free on bond as he awaits his sentencing.

The investigation was conducted by special agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office, and the Albany bureau of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin P. Dooley of Binghamton.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.