SALT LAKE CITY — Jacob Kingston, the central defendant in a $1.1 billion fraud case, offered Friday to put up $10 million to ensure his appearance in court if he is released while awaiting trial.
Kingston, his brother Isaiah, and California and Turkish businessman Lev Arslan Dermen are held without bail in northern Utah jails pending trial on tax fraud and money laundering charges that could draw life prison sentences.
Federal prosecutors allege the Kingstons, co-founders of Washakie Renewable Energy, and Dermen conspired to defraud the government of up to $1.1 billion in biofuels tax credits.
The men are a high risk to flee if they are let out of jail pending trial, prosecutors have argued in convincing the U.S. District Court to keep the trio locked up.
But on Friday, attorneys for Jacob Kingston, Washakie’s CEO, filed documents urging the court to free him under strict conditions pending trial.
In the motion, Kingston promised to sign a $10 million bond, which also would be co-signed by 45 members of Kingston’s extended family, “who exert powerful moral suasion over him.”
The Kingston brothers are scions of polygamist leader John Daniel Kingston. The Kingston clan has extensive business holdings throughout the West, federal prosecutors have said.
The document said Jacob Kingston has 13 children and 11 grandchildren and argued it is ludicrous to conclude Kingston and his wife were running away to Turkey in August 2018 when the FBI arrested them at the Salt Lake airport.
“Jacob Kingston bought airline tickets for himself and several of his family members because his son, Joseph Kingston, and daughter-in-law, were traveling to the city of Bodrum, Turkey, for their honeymoon,” his court filing said.
Kingston had traveled to Turkey and back numerous times in the past several years because of business interests there, including since FBI agents raided Washakie offices in 2016, the document said.
Kingston would have no safe haven in Turkey anyway, his attorneys argued.
“There is no evidence in this record, aside from baseless speculation, that Turkey would permit Kingston, a U.S. citizen, to reside in Turkey to avoid this prosecution,” the document said. “On the contrary, the evidence is compelling that without possession of a valid U.S. passport, Kingston cannot enter or remain in Turkey.”
Kingston also offered to “be on full home incarceration,” submit to GPS monitoring and surrender individual and family travel documents.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office now has an opportunity to file a response to Kingston’s offer. A court ruling would follow.
Isaiah Kingston on Thursday submitted a separate release petition, contending he is receiving ineffective care for cancer and ulcerative colitis while housed in the Weber County Jail.
Jacob Kingston is jailed in Salt Lake County and Dermen remains incarcerated in Davis County.