Man charged with defrauding clients who ordered solar panels

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former owner and CEO of a defunct private solar energy and thermal installation company is accused of bilking 53 clients in Minnesota out of more than $1 million.

Michael Harvey, of River Falls, Wisconsin, is charged in Hennepin County with one count of theft-by-swindle for falsely promising to provide and install solar panels in 2017 and 2018.

The 41-year-old Harvey was the head of Able Energy, which closed in 2018. Authorities say Harvey encouraged sales representatives to tell customers their jobs would be done more quickly if they paid upfront, which he did in order to “prop up his failing business.”

Harvey is also accused of falsely offering financial incentives through electric utilities or government entities.