The owner of a southern Minnesota wind-power company has been charged with a $1 million fraud, allegedly spending his customers' money on such personal items as Timberwolves season tickets and a down payment on a lakefront home.
Kerry Kisslinger of suburban Houston was CEO of the now-defunct ES Windpower Inc. of Emmons, Minn., which sold wind turbines to farmers, ranchers and others in Minnesota and across the Midwest.
From 2012 to 2015, Kisslinger allegedly defrauded customers by taking their money but not delivering on his obligation to install wind turbines on their land, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota. Kisslinger, 58, was charged with five counts of wire fraud.
Kisslinger could not be reached for comment.
ES Windpower had a distribution agreement with a North Dakota-based wind-turbine manufacturer. But Kisslinger often failed to send down payments from his customers to the manufacturer as required, federal prosecutors said. Also, Kisslinger sometimes remitted some down-payment money to the turbine maker but didn't complete the ordering process.
Prosecutors said Kisslinger regularly used customer money for personal expenses, including a $45,000 down payment on a lakefront home in Emmons, a town near the Iowa border.
He allegedly falsely told some customers that each turbine would be protected by a $100,000 bond if ES Windpower could not complete delivery and installation.
Kisslinger, as surety for ES Windpower and two other companies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy liquidation in May 2015 in Minnesota. The combined entities claimed $510,244 in assets and $3.77 million in liabilities.