An Irvine man was accused Tuesday of running an alleged program with his company that raised millions of dollars in investment funds based on allegedly false promises to improve solar panels with nanotechnology.
56-year-old founder and owner of Nanotech Engineering, Michael James Sweaney, has pleaded guilty to guilty of postal fraud in connection with an alleged investment program that has raised more than $ 9.5 million, according to prosecutors to have.
Prosecutors allege Sweaney used “high pressure sales tactics” to spread “false claims” that his company had developed technology that could generate electricity three times more efficiently than traditional solar panels. Regarding the alleged technological breakthrough as “nanopanel,” the company claimed that their solar panels were a third of the cost of similar devices and would soon dominate the market, prosecutors claim.
As part of his plea, Sweaney now admits that, according to the US prosecutor, the “nanopanel” technology does not actually exist.
Over a three-year period ending in 2019, prosecutors said Sweaney and his sales team lied to investors, with Sweaney himself using an alias to hide the fact that he had previously been convicted of securities fraud.
Sweaney’s nephew – David Wayne Sweaney, 41, of Fort Collins, Colorado – served as the company’s chief executive officer and already pleaded guilty to email fraud, according to US prosecutors.
As part of the alleged scheme, prosecutors said Sweaney had his nephew create prop versions of the “nanopanels” for a video that appeared to outperform traditional solar panels and appear to be made.
According to his plea, Sweaney also used investor money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including buying a 46-foot yacht, luxury cars and jewelry, and paying for cosmetic surgery. Approximately $ 1.5 million in funds – plus the yacht, cars, and jewelry – were confiscated during the federal investigation and will be forfeited as part of his plea, according to Sweaney prosecutors.