A serial swindler who stole from investors in his Pasco company is accused of using a false identity to get a passport while on probation.
Michael Peter Spitzauer had just finished his latest prison term in a case related to Green Power of Pasco, a company he told investors he founded to convert municipal waste to biofuel.
He was released from prison last June and less than two months later on Aug. 2 he applied for a passport using fake information, according to a federal court indictment filed this week.
He was sentenced to a year’s probation after his release from prison. Until June 16 of this year he was prohibited from committing another crime or leaving Eastern Washington without permission from the court or his probation officer.
Spitzaur also was required to pay nearly $13 million to investors in his biofuels company and $2.6 million to the Internal Revenue Service. He told investors he was building a waste-to-fuel plant at the Port of Pasco.
In addition to the criminal case, he owned creditors more than $30 million as of 2015, but said he was broke.
The new indictment filed in federal court Tuesday covered three charges, including a count of aggravated identity theft for allegedly using the identification of another person to apply for a passport.
The indictment listed an alternate name, Michael Peter Scott Spitzauer McCune.
A native of Austria, Spitzauer claimed on his passport application to be a native of El Paso, Texas, according to the indictment.
That claim and a claim of being a U.S. citizen in his application resulted in counts of making a false statement and making a false statement in applying for and using a passport.
Spitzauer, then 47, was sentenced in 2015 to four years in prison, with credit for time served.
He was indicted in 2013 on wire and bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, tax evasion and lying on his federal tax return, with many of the accusations linked to his actions at Green Power.
He reached a plea deal that reduced counts to failing to file a tax return one year and filing a false tax return another year.
As part of the deal, he acknowledged defrauding investors of $10.4 million and using the money to pay back previous investors on unauthorized business expenses and for personal expenses such as buying a $1 million Kennewick mansion, furniture, donations and professional sports tickets.
In addition to the Green Power-related case, he owned creditors more than $30 million as of 2015 but said he was broke.
Most of Spitzauer’s victims in the case were from foreign countries, making the trial logistically challenging and expensive because of the cost of bringing the victims to the U.S. and covering housing and some expenses while they were in Eastern Washington.
Federal prosecutors accused Spitzauer of stealing money from people starting as a teenager, according to court documents.
Before he came to the United States he was convicted of fraud and forgery in 1989 and fraud again in 1991. He was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison, but only served three.
When he was released from an Austrian prison, he came to the United States and lied on his immigration entry form about his previous convictions and later lied on his Legal Permanent Resident application.
His first business venture in the United States included a check fraud scheme, federal prosecutors said.
A Kenmore, Wash., woman invested her retirement funds in it. She spent more than a decade trying to get the more than $1 million that Spitzhauer owed her, but had no luck by the time he went to prison in 2015.
No probation violation had been filed as of Wednesday in the 2013 case that landed him in prison most recently, according to online court documents.