WAS CONVICTED SMOG-CREDIT SWINDLER ANNE SHOLTZ PART OF SHADY INTERNATIONAL ‘MONEY REPATRIATION’ SCHEMES?
August 20, 2009
By Chip Jacobs for the Pasadena Weekly
The demise of Anne Sholtz’s once-grand life is evident in the smaller things. It’s there in the GPS-tracking bracelet — standard issue for felons in home detention — that looped around her ankle for a year, and in her near-dormant passport. It’s traceable in her pillow, which rests today in leased home miles from the $5-million hillside estate that had broadcast her transformation from Caltech economist to business phenom.
Yes, the wreckage from that existence — the economizing, the isolation from connected friends who now shun her — is graspable.
Where the picture turns as murky as whisky-brown Southern California smog is how Sholtz, as a then-thirtysomething go-getter, was able to deceive the very air-pollution market she helped conceive, and the lessons that holds for keeping financial crooks out of the trillion-dollar, greenhouse-gas trading system that President Obama has trumpeted as a key to curbing global warming.
Unless you’re in the arcane field of emissions trading, chances are you’ve probably never heard of Sholtz before. Last April, the former Pasadena emissions-broker was convicted in federal court of fraud relating to a multimillion-dollar deal for credits in Southern California’s novel smog-exchange. Despite pleas that she sock Sholtz with years behind bars, US Central District Court Judge Audrey Collins gave her just a year in home confinement.
Fortunate with a light sentence in that downtown LA courtroom, Sholtz nonetheless sustained heavy losses outside of it, squandering, among other potential, her chance to build a unique and lucrative pollution-trading business, with access to Obama or Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as an industry confidante. Those opportunities gone, she now drives her mother’s car, not the Mercedes or SUV she once did. Rather than expanding her ideas into climate change, she checks in with her parole officer.
Blown prosperity for Sholtz, it’s been no bonanza for others, either.
Between criticism over its secretive, mixed-bag prosecution of her and evidence of Sholtz’s role in a scheme to extract millions in overseas US aid with men purporting to be American intelligence and military operatives, the Department of Justice’s LA office probably wishes she would just fade away. Local smog regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), whose market-based regulation proved vulnerable to her deceptions, can relate.
Trouble is some events are just too big to disappear. And the Sholtz case, no matter its relative obscurity or connection to complex regulations, fits that mold because it underscores the need for vigorous oversight of emissions markets against seemingly inevitable Wall Street-style chicanery.