SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge ruled Friday that both Kingston brothers will not be released from jail pending the outcome of the many charges they face.
Jacob and Isaiah Kingston, the CEO and CFO of Washakie Renewable Energy in Box Elder County, respectively, will remain in jail after U.S. District Court Judge Jill Parrish denied their motions to be released from jail. Each of the brothers are facing over 40 federal counts of fraud, money laundering and witness tampering.
The decision, published Friday, picks apart each of the brothers’ appeals to be released.
Isaiah Kingston filed a motion to review his detention status on Dec. 31, citing that he should be released because the Weber County Jail was not giving him proper medical treatment. In the motion, his attorney said Isaiah “suffers serious and debilitating health problems due to his diagnosis of cancer, and especially his serious ulcerative colitis.”
In the same motion, Isaiah’s attorney argued that “new information” would merit his release. Parrish writes that there was no new information in the motion, and argued that it only claimed that Isaiah does not have access to money or any ownership in Washakie.
Parrish rebuffed that argument, saying there is “strong evidence” Isaiah is a 50 percent owner in the corporation and had sent wire transfers to Turkish banks totaling $52 million.
Isaiah’s attorney also argued that he does not have any connection to Turkey. Parrish again rebuffed this argument.
“Given that evidence shows Isaiah personally transferred at least $52 million from Washakie’s accounts to Turkey, this suggests a ‘connection to Turkey,’” Parrish wrote.
As for Jacob’s appeal, his attorneys argued that he was not fleeing the country for Turkey with his family when he was arrested, but instead was headed for a family vacation. He also argued that the government arrested him at the Salt Lake International Airport as a “strategic decision” in order to frame him as a flight risk. Jacob’s attorneys also argued that he could not flee to Turkey because all his money is tied up in businesses.
In response, federal prosecutors countered in saying that it is “undisputed” that Jacob wired at least $134 million to accounts in Turkey. They also said he had purchased the plane tickets, which Jacob said were for his son’s honeymoon, three days before the trip.
In the order to deny release, Parrish wrote that the government has presented evidence that both Jacob and Isaiah Kingston made false statements to the Southern District of New York in the effort to conceal Washakie’s assets in Turkey, tried to bribe government officials and tried to hire an enforcer to intimidate witnesses.
On those grounds, Parrish denied both Kingston’s pretrial release efforts.
The denial comes even after Jacob Kingston offered to post a $10 million bail amount for his release.
California businessman Lev Dermen, who was indicted the same time as both Kingstons and is facing a number of similar charges, has also tried to launch a bid to be released from jail. However, his efforts have seen the same result as Friday’s decision. Following Parrish’s refusal to release Dermen to house arrest and private guards, he recently appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in his bid to gain the pretrial release. The appeals court has yet to rule on the matter.
The Kingston’s legal troubles began in August 2018 when both brothers and California businessman Lev Dermen were indicted on 15 counts alleging the three had defrauded the federal government of $511 million in renewable energy tax credits.
Since their arrests, the federal indictments just keep coming.
In November, a superseding indictment alleged the three had stolen even more money. The amount allegedly stolen grew to $1.1 billion in tax credits. Each of the three were charged with more counts of money laundering.
Yet another superseding indictment in January piled more charges against the Kingston clan. This time, other members of the Kingston family would be charged, including the Kingston brothers’ mother, Rachel Ann Kingston, and Jacob’s wife, Sally Louise Kingston.
Rachel Kingston is charged with attempted conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, bank fraud and obstruction of justice by destroying records. The indictment accused Sally Kingston of one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.
The government has also moved to seize much of Washakie’s and the Kingston’s assets. This includes the Washakie Renewable Energy plant in Box Elder County; more than 500 acres of undeveloped land nearby; mansions in Sandy, Utah, and Huntington Beach, California; a Bugatti Veyron; two Lamborghinis; a Ferrari and six Kenworth trucks, among other assets.
Jacob Kingston is being held at the Salt Lake County Jail. Isaiah Kingston will remain in the custody of the Weber County Jail. Lev Dermen is being held at the Davis County Jail. Sally and Rachel Kingston were not ordered to be held in jail as their charges are pending.