Two Elk power plant promoter Michael J. Ruffatto reported to a minimum security federal prison in California this week to begin serving an 18-month sentence for stealing $5.7 million from a 2009-2010 Department of Energy research grant in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
A spokesperson for the federal Bureau of Prisons said Tuesday Aug. 28 that Ruffatto had been assigned to the United States Penitentiary Lompoc “minimum security satellite prison camp” in Santa Barbara County.
Ruffatto, 72, requested the Lompoc facility at his June 27 sentencing hearing in Pittsburgh. The camp’s 400 inmates live in dormitory style housing in some cases without perimeter fencing. The prison news service PrisonWire describes the Lompoc camp as being “as close as you can get to not feeling like the inmate is incarcerated.” The camp offers programs where selected inmates can work outside the camp in the local community.
In addition to prison time, Ruffatto still owes the federal government more than $8 million in restitution and civil penalties, including $2,019,281.92 that is due before the end of the year.
The week before he reported to prison, Ruffatto cut his asking price on his sprawling Colorado estate from $10.4 million to $8.9 million. When he first put the Cherry Hills Village property on the market in 2015 it was priced at $14 million.
According to business associates in California, Ruffatto has also been trying to sell his interest in two California power plants with an estimated worth of about $4 million based on power purchasing agreements with California utilities.
According to one source who claims to have recently met with him, Ruffatto has also attempted to interest foreign investors in the long-defunct Two Elk Power Plant project in Campbell County that he first proposed in 1997.