St. Joseph man pleads guilty in $1.4 million solar energy fraud case

An owner of a solar energy installation company in St. Joseph pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in a $1.4 million fraud scheme.

Trevor Dryden waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas City to charges of conspiracy to fraudulently obtain state and federal solar rebates and making false statements related to state and federal solar rebate programs.

Dryden, 36, of St. Joseph, owned U.S. Solar, which sold and installed solar energy systems. Another owner of the company, Richard Schonemann, 38, of St. Joseph, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and making false statements.

In Tuesday’s plea agreement, Dryden admitted that he was involved in three fraud schemes.

One involved fraudulently obtaining rebates from Kansas City Power & Light by overstating the number of solar panels installed.

The other schemes involved a federal rebate program and annual updates for the federal program.

Prosecutors said the losses from the schemes totaled $1,396,956. Dryden acknowledged losses of $993,506.

A judge will determine how much restitution Dryden must pay when he is sentenced in June. Federal prosecutors will recommend a five-year prison sentence as part of the plea agreement.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc