A Kennewick Immigrant’s Woes

June 30, 2015 7:39 am
by David Jakeman

Michael Spitzauer was an immigrant from Austria living in Kennewick, Washington. He wasn’t your average immigrant to the United States though. Before coming to the United States he had served three years in prison in Austria for a conviction of fraud and forgery. Following his prison term, he immigrated to the United States. Spitzauer allegedly lied on his immigration paperwork about his previous convictions and allegedly did the same when it came time to fill out his Legal Permanent Resident application. According to federal prosecutors, this was only the beginning.

Kennewick Investigation

Federal officials claim that Spitzauer, a resident of Kennewick, defrauded investors of more than $10 million in his attempt to run a biofuel company. At first it appeared that there had been a plea deal worked out between the two sides, but that was rejected by the US District Court, which argued that Spitzauer’s history of fraud made it necessary to have a trial.

Spitzauer was the CEO of Green Power, based in the Tri-City area. Green Power was supposed to be a company that would turn waste into fuel to power the energy plant. Spitzauer claims that the reason the company failed was not because it was a type of Ponzi scheme, but because it was a business failure. Part of the problem was that he was unable to get the necessary permits to burn garbage for fuel. Prosecutors say that Spitzauer spent the money as soon as he got it, so there is little chance that they would be able to get anything back for the investors.

Federal prosecutors are seeking large judgments against him to the tune of $13 million in restitution, as well as turning over his Kennewick house. Because Spitzauer lied on his immigration documents, he faces deportation back to Austria if he is convicted. For that reason, the stakes are high for Spitzauer. Kennewick immigration attorneys generally don’t face trials with such high-profile situations.

Immigration Fraud

Immigration fraud is a serious issue, and as shown by Spitzauer’s case, it can sometimes be used against individuals in court cases involving other issues. It is hard to know everything that went down with the failed company Green Power, but it definitely is difficult to see so many people hurt in its aftermath. It is hard to understand why investors put money into a company that didn’t have the proper city permits that allowed for the burning of trash for fuel. Whoever was investing probably could have done more due diligence.

Ultimately, court cases involve tragic and difficult situations. Kennewick immigration attorneys understand this just about as well as most people. But Spitzauer’s case has taken on a life of its own, and many people will be watching intensely to see how it all plays out. Immigration fraud is one thing. Defrauding dozens of investors of millions of dollars is another.

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