5280.com Exclusive: An Update on "The Biggest Green Scam in America"

February 25 2013, 11:41 AM

In June 2011, we revealed how a Denver man helped fleece investors out of tens of millions of dollars in "The Biggest Green Scam in America." The story investigated Wayde McKelvy, a lifelong pitchman and the rainmaker for Mantria, a Philadelphia company purportedly specializing in alternative energy. But according to a 2009 SEC lawsuit, the company was little more than a sloppily run Ponzi scheme.

By the time of 5280's publication, McKelvy was pedaling new money-making schemes under the name Clint Brashman and hosting a porn website for his transexual girlfriend, a former prostitute.

Life hasn't gotten much better.

In September, a federal judge ordered Mantria and its owners to pay $155 million in fines and interest. McKelvy and his money-raising operation were slapped with bills of more than $26 million.

Meanwhile, two other lawsuits slog forward. Those cases seek damages from the so-called gatekeepers—the accountants and law firms that handled Mantria's finances and legal documents.

One case, brought by the receiver charged with finding the company's remaining assets, was scheduled for a summer 2013 trial, but in February the federal judge agreed to delay the trial indefinitely. In a separate federal case brought by swindled investors, a judge late last year dismissed some gatekeepers from the case. But he declined to remove others, including Estill & Long, a Littleton law firm that approved people for McKelvy's investment club. (The firm has denied that it knew of the scam.)

There's no word on when either case will to go trial. But the saga seems likely to grind on for years still. In an email investors say they received this month, receiver John Paul Anderson of Alvarez & Marsal said he knew the Department of Justice and Department of Labor were at some point investigating the matter.

Bilked investors are wary of optimism. As their website points out in a ticking clock, the SEC filed its suit more than 1,195 days ago and nobody's facing criminal charges yet.