Robert Firebaugh saw himself as a forward thinking entrepreneur who invented a way to make diesel truck emissions cleaner. He convinced investors to fund his idea and built a company called Integrated Fuel Technology. He would make the world a little greener and him and his investors rich.
At least, that's how it was supposed to go. Those investors now say that Firebaugh is actually a con artist who used real estate scams to line his pockets, knows nothing of diesel trucks, and blew some of their money on his mistress.
The investors' complaints were detailed by SW last November and are part of an ongoing lawsuit. Since our story, it's only gotten worse for Firebaugh. The Department of Financial Institutions has now charged him with securities fraud.Much of DFI's charging document reflects the investors' complaints. According to the Department, Firebaugh told investors they could earn ten-fold within a year, thanks to contracts he had lined up. That was more than two years ago and only now, after kicking Firebaugh to the curb, does the company have a little revenue coming in.
DFI says Firebaugh failed to tell potential investors that he had previously filed for bankruptcy after several real estate deals went south, which, as SW described, left a whole other trail of disgruntled former business partners. He also should have disclosed that he had no prior experience in the emissions field, and that he was using investors' money for personal expenses. (That last part especially seems like a pretty awkward conversation: "Please invest in my company; I've got a mistress with expensive taste.")
Firebaugh and his two partners also had no legal right to sell shares in Integrated Fuel since he hadn't registered with the state Securities Administration, according to DFI. The final tally on the three men's ill-gotten investments is $2 million.
The Department's charges aren't criminal, so the most Firebaugh is subject to is a large fine. Firebaugh will contest the charges, says his attorney, John Tollefsen.
DFI's chief of enforcement, Suzanne Sarason, says the amount of each man's fine will be decided after Firebaugh's challenge gets sorted out. But, as anyone who tried to get money from Firebaugh in a real estate deal already knows, actually collecting from the guy is a pretty hopeless task.