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Appalachian Biofuels, LLC

  Empty facility in St. Paul, Virginia that was to house Appalachian Biofuels, LLC  


Appalachian Biofuels LLC was a limited liability company owned by Virginia Israel Advisory Board Vice Chairman Charles "Chuck" Lessin. Lessin obtained an ethics waiver from the Virginia Attorney General in order to obtain a $565,000 Tobacco Commission grant to refine biodiesel in a vacant facility in St. Paul, Virginia. The venture failed, but Lessin kept $210,000 after Tobacco Commission Executive Director Evan Feinman considered Lessin's following argument: As a member of the VIAB board, working on many VIAB projects (in which he appears to have had no personal investment), Lessin more than satisfied the job creation and other benchmarks from Appalachian Biofuel LLC's performance to create jobs and improve the tax base under Lessin's agreement with the Tobacco Commission.

List of secret VIAB projects from Lessin redacted and released by the Tobacco Commission.

The files below were released under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, 2.2-3704. They are presented as received.

Date  or Range Subject
2014-07-24 Appalachian Biofuels LLC Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission grant Application (#2941)
2014-08-8 Appalachian Biofuels LLC performance agreement with the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission
2014-2018 Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund Payments to and Claw backs from Appalachian Biofuels LLC.
2019-08-05 Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission Executive Director Evan Feinman forgives Appalachian Biofuels LLC of a $210,000 outstanding grant repayment.
2019-07-19 Tobacco Commission-redacted list of projects VIAB Vice Chairman Charles Lessin submitted as a justification for canceling a $210,000 grant repayment he owed through Appalachian Biofuels, LLC
2020-05-01 Virginia Office of the State Inspector General finds a whistleblower allegation of TROF wrongdoing over the Appalachian Biofuels claw-back foregiveness is substantiated. "The substitution of planned jobs and capital investments from VIAB projects was a compromise in lieu of repayment; however, it lacked TRRC approval as required by TROF policy."

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