- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

MIDDLETOWN, Ind. (AP) - Prosecutors say a suspect in a $90 million biodiesel scam made threats to harm or kill people who might give evidence against him.

The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/1Pdlpza ) reports 49-year-old Joseph Furando of New Jersey and several alleged co-conspirators in Indiana are accused of taking part in the scheme.

Authorities say Furando and Tracy Pattison sent biodiesel fuel that got renewable fuel credits to a Middletown facility, which falsely claimed it made the fuel to get more credits. Federal prosecutors also said they sold the fuel as 100 percent biofuel, but that it had some petroleum diesel.

A U.S. attorney said in 2013 that the scam allowed them to charge more than what the biofuel was worth, and that they got tax credits and other benefits that they shouldn’t have received. Prosecutors say customers who bought the fuel were defrauded of more than $55 million, while the IRS lost $35 million in tax breaks and renewable energy credits.

The trial for Furando and others is scheduled next month for U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. Pattison made a plea agreement and agreed to testify against Furando and others.

According to prosecutors, Furando has a “history of violence” that includes bending backward an employee’s finger and threatening to stab and blackmail the president of the Middletown facility. Authorities say Pattison reached out to an assistant U.S. attorney in 2013 after Furando threatened to kill her.

Furando sent Pattison text messages that showed he was furious about her contacting the assistant U.S. attorney and he told her suicide was her only option, prosecutors say.

A message seeking comment was left with an attorney representing Furando.

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Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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