Judge OKs Rivera fraud suit

Published 12:04 am Friday, September 28, 2007

NATCHEZ — A judge denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against local biofuel developer John Rivera Thursday.

A Canadian company, Noront Recycling, filed suit in chancery court against Rivera in early August for alleged fraud, among other things.

Rivera’s company, U.S. Sustainable Energy Corp., bought a warehouse near the county port in December. The company would eventually make 1.5 million gallons of biofuel a day, Rivera said at the time.

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In the hearing Thursday, Attorney Rick Bass said that several years ago, Rivera told plaintiff Mark Trevisiol if he gave him start-up funds, he would have a share in Rivera’s process of making fuel and any funds that process produced.

Trevisiol bought facilities in Port Gibson for Rivera to use and wired money to a bank account Rivera specified, Bass said.

The suit alleges Trevisiol provided $37,000 to Rivera.

Bass said Rivera used a series of “fictitious or sham companies” to run the Port Gibson facility.

Trevisiol never saw any profits from penny stocks from USSEC, which Rivera later created, Bass said.

Rivera was not present at Thursday’s hearing.

Rivera’s attorneys, Claude “Buck” Pintard and Scott Pintard, said Rivera couldn’t be sued because he served as CEO. The plaintiff should sue the company Rivera was part of at the time when he was at the Port Gibson facility.

That company no longer exists, Bass said.

The Pintards also argued that the process used at Port Gibson to recycle tires and produce fuel was not the same as reportedly being used at the Natchez plant.

Bass said he wanted documents from both processes to compare and see if that was true.

“They can’t tell the court, ‘Trust us, it’s a different process,’” Bass said.

Bass said repeated requests for such documents had elicited only an irrelevant document from Rivera and no responses from his co-defendants, USSEC and Sustainable Power Corp., USSEC’s marketing company.

There were no documents to see, Claude Pintard said. Either a fire or flood — Pintard suggested both — destroyed the documents at the Port Gibson facility, Pintard said.

Pintard said they would appeal the ruling to an appellate court.