Feds level more charges in Kingston fraud case

Posted at 1:16 PM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-26 15:50:49-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutors have leveled more criminal charges in a half-billion dollar fraud scheme involving members of the Kingston polygamous family.

Jacob Kingston, the CEO of Washakie Renewable Energy, leaves court with his lawyers on August 7, 2018. (Image by Manuel Rodriguez, FOX 13 News)

FOX 13 has obtained a superseding indictment handed down by a federal grand jury last week. It levels more false tax return charges against Washakie Renewable Energy CEO Jacob Kingston, his brother, Isaiah, and Turkish businessman Lev Dermen. Additional money laundering charges were filed against the Kingston brothers.

The three are accused of working together to have Washakie Renewable Energy file false tax returns to fraudulently obtain renewable fuel tax credits. The U.S. Department of Justice has alleged the scheme sought to bilk taxpayers out of a billion and netted just over $500 million.

Isaiah Kingston (image courtesy Weber County Jail)

A federal judge has ordered the men to appear in court next week. They previously pleaded not guilty to the original charges and a trial date has been set for next year.

The case stems from a 2016 IRS raid by the IRS on businesses tied to the Kingston polygamous family. In civil lawsuits against Jacob Kingston, lawyers have claimed Washakie Renewable Energy produced no biofuels.

In 2016, FOX 13 found Washakie Renewable Energy was a big contributor on Utah’s Capitol Hill, making numerous political donations to lawmakers, the governor, attorney general and Utah Republican Party. The company also advertised heavily at Utah Jazz games and Megaplex movie theaters.

Lev Dermen (image via Davis Co. Jail)

The case has raised some interesting connections between the Kingstons, who are prominent members of one of Utah’s largest fundamentalist Mormon churches, and Turkish political leaders. Photos published in Turkish news media last year showed Jacob Kingston meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he was pitching business investments in that country.

The feds have also accused the Kingstons and Dermen of stashing millions in bank accounts in Turkey and planning to flee to the country to avoid prosecution. All three men have denied those accusations.

Read the new indictment here: