- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - The former owners of a California-based company tasked to build electric car charging stations in Illinois have been charged with fraud.

The indictment made public Wednesday in U.S. District Court accuses Mariana Gerzanych and Timothy Mason of falsely obtaining almost $3 million in federal grants administered by the city of Chicago and government agencies in Pennsylvania and California.

The Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/1w5rlnB ) prosecutors claim the two submitted false claims saying their company, 350Green LLC of Los Angeles, paid subcontractors and vendors when in fact they had not. Both were charged with five counts of wire fraud.

In October 2010, the city of Chicago entered into a contract with 350Green that gave the company $1.9 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants to build the stations. The company was required to provide $6.8 million of its own funds to complete the project but didn’t, according to the indictment.

Authorities say 350Green also did not pay the actual maker of chargers and instead made checks out to a front company called Actium Power. Gerzanych and Mason also lied to governmental partners about reasons for 350Green’s financial difficulties, the indictment says, to cover up the scheme.

By spring 2013, more than half of the 280 charging stations promised by 350Green had been installed in Chicago. Many didn’t work. The charger network was turned over to a new company by a federal judge, after 350Green stopped paying bills and federal authorities began investigating the company.

The company also had contracts with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and two agencies in the San Francisco area.

Gerzanych and Mason’s arraignment is scheduled for March 19. The two didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Tribune. Court records do not list attorneys representing them.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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