Salt River Solar owner charged with fraud

2014-02-06T12:00:00Z 2014-07-13T15:49:43Z Salt River Solar owner charged with fraudBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The owner of a solar-panel installation company has been accused of scamming customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a multi-count indictment filed in Pima County Superior Court.

Michael Allen Fricker, owner of Phoenix-based Salt River Solar and Wind, is accused of keeping customers’ rebates and not paying manufacturers and dealers for solar panels.

The 35-count indictment says Fricker and his company took more than $350,000 from residential customers and solar panel companies between 2009 and late 2013.

“The attorney general and the FBI will investigate and prosecute individuals for their alleged criminal conduct, which undermines the economy, victimizes consumers and abuses government incentives,” Assistant Arizona Attorney General Mike Jette said.

The 11-page indictment accuses Fricker and the company of illegal control of an enterprise, money laundering, fraudulent schemes and artifices and theft.

Prosecutors said Fricker told customers they needed to pay upfront for solar units and installation on the premise that rebate money would later be returned to them or used to offset additional costs.

The attorney general said the rebate money never made it to customers and work was often left incomplete. The indictment identifies 10 victims who said they were cheated out of thousands of dollars.

In addition, court documents say at least two solar panel manufacture or sales companies were defrauded.

Fricker could not be located for comment. Salt River Solar and Wind has closed.

While the company does not have any civil cases filed against it in Pima County Superior Court, it was the defendant in at least 13 civil cases in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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