Wyoming power plant developer faces prison for fund misuse

Published: Jun. 12, 2017 at 1:44 PM CDT
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The Colorado developer of a Wyoming power plant that hasn't been built after decades on the drawing board faces prison time when he's sentenced for misusing federal funds.

Prosecutors are seeking more than three years in prison for 71-year-old Michael J. Ruffatto, the principal of Greenwood Village, Colorado-based North American Power Group. Ruffatto faces sentencing June 19 in federal court in Pittsburgh.

He pleaded guilty last year for falsifying documents related to $5.7 million in unaccounted-for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Ruffatto's attorney is arguing for probation instead of prison. Ruffatto has paid back $3.7 million of the $5.7 million.

Much of the money was supposed to be used to study carbon-capture feasibility at the proposed Two Elk power plant in northeast Wyoming.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, instead of performing the work required under the cooperative agreement, Ruffatto fraudulently transferred millions of dollars of award monies into his personal bank account and used the award monies to fund an extravagant lifestyle. Ruffatto secretly filtered millions of dollars of award monies through Ruffatto’s wholly owned subsidiary, North American Land and Livestock, LLC, while falsely representing to the Department of Energy that the subsidiary was doing work on the project.