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Two Elk carbon project chief faces federal fraud charges

The president of the company heading the much-delayed TwoElk carbon capture project in Wyoming is facing federal fraud charges.

Michael Ruffatto, president of the , is chargedwith a felony for a false claim against the federal government, according todocuments filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District ofPennsylvania.

The claim involves a request for about $360,000 made to theU.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory to researchcarbon storage at the Two Elk facility in October 2011, according to courtdocuments.

The maximum penalty for the felony could include five yearsin prison, a fine of $250,000 and possibly restitution of funds.

In September, NAPG announced it would a permit for Two Elk'swaste-coal-to-energy project, which was to be located near ArchCoal Inc.'s Black Thunder mine in Wyoming.

According to news reports by WyoFile, Ruffatto said he would repay the $5.7 million the DOE hasdemanded out of a total of $7.8 million after the agency cited "seriousmismanagement or misuse of funds" and demanded repayment. Investigationsby WyoFile pointed out severalquestionable invoices, as well as salary payments to himself and NAPG's vicepresident amounting to more than $1.2 million over two years.

Ruffatto did not respond to a request for comment, but astatement from Ruffatto's spokesperson published by WyoFile said the companyintended to repay the federal government in full.