SALT LAKE CITY — A California businessman jailed in Davis County says prosecutors are depriving him of a speedy trial by linking him to the massive fraud case against biofuels entrepreneur Jacob Kingston.
Lev Aslan Dermen, 52, has been behind bars in Farmington for almost six months, waiting to defend himself against four federal money laundering charges.
His attorneys on Tuesday filed a motion in U.S. District Court asking that his case be severed from the complex and voluminous prosecution facing Washakie Renewable Energy CEO Jacob Kingston.
Dermen also seeks a change of venue to a federal court in California, where he lives and where most witnesses in the money laundering case are located.
While Kingston is charged with 25 counts related to an alleged scheme to cheat the federal government of up to $1.1 billion in biofuels tax credits, Dermen attorney Mark Geragos of Los Angeles asserts the case against Dermen has nothing to do with the underlying tax scheme.
Dermen is charged with three money laundering counts for allegedly helping Kingston to launder $350,000 Kingston is alleged to have obtained through the tax fraud. A fourth money laundering count says Dermen helped Kingston and his brother, Washakie CFO Isaiah Kingston, buy a $3 million home in Sandy with loot from the tax scheme.
U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish already has postponed the trial to May 13 and it is expected to be bumped against because the government says it plans to file more charges against Jacob Kingston, Geragos said.
Dermen — who, like the other defendants, is held without bail because prosecutors consider him to be a high risk to flee if granted bail — is ready to go to trial, Geragos said.
“This motion is premised on the substantial prejudice caused to Mr. Dermen’s speedy trial and related trial rights and continued compromise of these rights if his trial is not severed,” Geragos wrote.
In court documents, prosecutors allege the Kingstons “schemed to defraud the Internal Revenue Service of $1.1 billion.” They were able to obtain $511 million, but the “intended loss” documented in the scheme was more than double that, prosecutors said.
The Kingstons are sons of polygamist leader John Daniel Kingston. The brothers created Washakie in 2007 and the company built a huge biofuels production plant near Plymouth in Box Elder County.