PORTLAND — An energy consultant involved with an Oregon solar power project has been indicted on forgery charges.
Martin Shain, the lead consultant on the state's $24 million "Solar by Degree" project, was indicted on two forgery counts on Thursday, reported The Oregonian/OregonLive. Prosecutors say he created a fake invoice from a fictional subcontractor to help secure nearly $12 million in tax credits from the Oregon Department of Energy.
The Oregon Department of Justice investigated Shain after The Oregonian/OregonLive raised questions about the project's management and funding. Gov. Kate Brown and Energy Department head Michael Kaplan requested the investigation.
The state says Shain, an energy consultant with Seattle-based BacGen Technologies, forged two documents.
One was a bill dated Feb. 25, 2011, supposedly submitted by the Solar Foundation Systems. It detailed construction expenditures on each of the solar arrays and was supposed to prove that work on the project was underway.
Solar Foundation Systems, however, didn't exist.
Jim McDermott, Shain's lawyer, agrees that the invoice was made up but says someone else on the project gave the document to his client and Shain assumed it was genuine.
The state also argues that Shain forged a December 2011 letter signed by Ryan Davies, the former head of Utah developer RedCo. The document was submitted by the project team to prove it was meeting the benchmarks required to qualify for tax credits. The letter said construction was progressing and reported that $210,000 had been spent on the project.
Davies told The Oregonian/Oregon Live in 2015 that he had never seen the letter before.
McDermott said Shain will be found innocent.
"We believe that Martin Shain is innocent of the Oregon AG's unfounded charges," the attorney said. "We fully expect he'll be acquitted by a jury."