Appalachian Biofuels Campaign

Proposed Appalachion Biofules Site

This aerial photo taken with a drone on Friday Sept. 18, 2020, shows a former furniture manufacturing building in St. Paul, Va. The building was expected to house a proposed biofuels business that got public economic development money. The project, Appalachian Biofuels, never materialized and part of the developer's grant that was supposed to be repaid was instead forgiven. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

VCHR initiates OSIG investigation into Appalachian Biofuels’s dealings with the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission

On May 1, 2020, the Virginia Office of the State Inspector General formally notified the Secretary of Commerce and Trade of improper financial dealings between Charles Lessin, Vice Chairman of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) and Evan Feinman, Executive Director of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC). This resulted in a formal finding of wrongdoing by OSIG and an Associated Press report.

According to the OSIG letter, TRRC and Feinman violated TRRC policy in its dealings with Charles Lessin, who was, at that time, also CEO of Appalachian Biofuels, LLC. In fact, Feinman gave Lessin credit for jobs not yet materialized by allowing him to claim potential jobs on separate and unrelated VIAB projects that were to be created in the TRRC’s service area. This action allowed Lesson to avoid “claw-backs” from TRRC for Appalachian’s failed project.

The chronology of events that lead to this ruling is detailed in the OSIG letter.