Fuel guru Bill Orr loses bid for new trial

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Babcock has at last issued a ruling denying a motion for acquittal or new trial filed by attorneys for William Orr, the alternative fuel entrepreneur whose battles with the EPA led to a guilty verdict on 23 counts of fraud and tax charges in Babcock's courtoom last May,

In his order, Babcock concludes that Orr received a fair trial, if not a perfect one: "Although as already noted a few prosecutorial mistakes may have been made over the course of this trial, which lasted over seven weeks, I conclude that these mistakes were of minor significance."

Orr and his attorneys heartily disagree, of course.

Many of the issues Orr raised in his motion -- having to do with alleged misconduct by the government in its investigation of Orr's efforts to develop a fuel blend that he claimed would be cheaper and cleaner than conventional gasoline -- were also the focus of my September feature "Nobody's Fuel." But Judge Babcock found no error in his handling of the matter at trial or in the way the prosecution presented witnesses and evidence, which Orr's attorneys argue was misleading and improper.

Orr has claimed to be the victim of a vendetta by the EPA, which he sued over emissions standards that he viewed as based on bad science. Several of the investors in his fuel technology have continued to support him and believe his patented octane-boosting product might some day be worth millions if it can be developed. Orr now faces a potential prison sentence of several years on the multiple counts, but no sentencing date has yet been set.

For more on the case and documents related to his EPA litigation, see my earlier blog entry, "Bill Orr's gas war with the government." --Alan Prendergast

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast