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Image courtesy of Los Angeles/Wikimedia Commons.

A California man pleaded guilty last Tuesday to federal fraud charges for his role in an alternative energy investment scheme that stole about $8 million from more than 300 victims across the country.

William A. Stehl, 69, pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles to five counts including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, lying to federal agents, two counts of attempting to evade the payment of federal income taxes for 2003 and 2004 and subscribing to a false federal income tax return for 2003.

Stehl faces up to 38 years in federal prison.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 15, 2014.

Stehl and his co-defendant, 64 year old Richard M. Rossignol, were arrested in Oxnard, California four years ago in connection with an indictment filed in the Northern District of New York.

The government alleges that from 2001 until 2010 Stehl, Rossignol and others involved in the fraud convinced their victims to invest in companies that were supposed to be developing or utilizing an alternative energy source Stehl claimed to have invented.

Stehl, Rossignol, and their co-conspirators collected more than $8 million from more than 300 victims and attempted to obtain at least an additional $50 million.

Most of the money was used for personal expenditures.

Rossignol was ordered to pay more than $8.1 million in restitution to the fraud victims.

Stehl remains free on bond pending sentencing.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.