SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has refused to release Washakie Renewable Energy CEO Jacob Kingston from jail pending trial.
In an order issued this week, U.S. District Court Judge Jill Parrish rejected a request by Kingston’s attorneys to be released.
“A consideration of the statutory factors reveals that the government has met its burden to establish both that Mr. Kingston poses a serious risk of flight and a danger to the community, neither of which can be ameliorated by any combination of conditions,” Judge Parrish wrote.
The judge said Kingston is facing 41 counts in a billion dollar fraud scheme including allegations of efforts to destroy evidence, attempts to bribe government officials, and attempts to intimidate grand jury witnesses.
“Relevant to both risk of flight and danger to the community, Mr. Kingston has proven himself eminently willing to defraud, obstruct, or otherwise thwart implements of the justice system in pursuit of his own ends,” she wrote.
The judge said there was evidence Kingston had $134 million in a Turkish bank. Despite the fact he regularly traveled there for business, Judge Parrish said there was evidence suggesting he was planning to flee.
“When combined with his considerable holdings in Turkey and the government’s representation that multiple sources have reported Mr. Kingston’s intent to flee to
Turkey, the best inference from the circumstances of the August 23, 2018 trip is that Mr. Kingston was indeed attempting to flee with his family,” she wrote.
Kingston’s attorneys have vigorously denied that.
Kingston is charged alongside his brother, Isaiah; his wife, Sally; his mother, Rachel; and business partner Lev Dermen in what federal prosecutors allege was a massive scheme to bilk the IRS out of renewable fuel tax credits. The case stems from a raid in 2016 by the IRS on businesses and properties related to the Kingston polygamous family. Lawsuits involving Washakie Renewable Energy have alleged the company produced no biofuels.
The Davis County Cooperative and Latter-Day Church of Christ, as well as a number of businesses linked to the group, have gone to Denver’s 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the use of documents seized by the feds. That case is still pending.
FOX 13 reported in 2016 that Washakie Renewable Energy was a big donor to members of the Utah State Legislature, Governor Gary Herbert, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and the Utah Republican Party. The company also advertised heavily at Utah Jazz games and Megaplex movie theaters.
The Kingstons and Dermen are scheduled to face a 10-week jury trial beginning in July.
Read the judge’s order here: