Former Aviation Biofuel Company Chief Charged With Embezzlement

May 5, 2023 by Dan McCue
Former Aviation Biofuel Company Chief Charged With Embezzlement

WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted the founder and former CEO of a company formed to convert biomass into sustainable aviation fuel, charging he embezzled at least $5.9 million from the enterprise.

According to the Justice Department, Bryan Sherbacow, of Charleston, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud Alder Fuels, which he founded in 2021, by transferring company funds into a personal bank account and using them for his own pleasure.

Among the items he allegedly used the money for were the purchase of a vintage Mercedes-Benz sports car and a Range Rover sport utility vehicle, a down payment on a condo, payments to an art auction operator, personal tax liens, personal credit card payments, rent payments on personal residences, payment to a beach club and installation of an audio-visual system at a personal residence. 

Sherbacow then allegedly attempted to conceal his embezzlement by, among other things, emailing altered bank statements and other falsified financial records to a company accountant and members of the company’s board. 

He has been charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. If convicted, Sherbacow faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the top counts of the indictment.

Sherbacow was terminated from his position as CEO of Alder Fuels by its board of directors in February, though his last day running the company was actually Dec. 27, according to published reports.

In a statement released on Feb. 6, the company said, “As a result of enhanced management processes, the company uncovered that the now-former CEO, Bryan Sherbacow, engaged in questionable financial transactions that benefited him personally. Upon discovery, the board immediately commenced a comprehensive review of the transactions and terminated Mr. Sherbacow for cause.” 

Prior to founding Alder Fuels, Sherbacow was chief commercial officer at World Energy, a sustainable aviation fuel company that has invested some $4 billion to scale up its manufacturing and technologies with the aim of supplying 1 billion gallons of clean aviation fuel to the industry by 2030.

He resigned from World Energy in late summer 2021 as Alder Fuels was getting its start. 

According to his LinkedIn page, the company he is alleged to have embezzled from is backed by Honeywell UOP, United Ventures, Directional Aviation, Avfuel, Boeing, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 

In 2010, Sherbacow founded AltAir Fuels, the first SAF production company in North America, where he served as president and chief operating officer. The facility was later acquired by World Energy.

In announcing Sherbacow’s indictment, the Justice Department emphasized that it merely represents an allegation and that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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