FBI Pays A Visit To Energae Promoter’s Home In Forest City, Iowa

I took this picture of the Darrell Duane Smith home on July 20, 2013. It was the scene of an FBI inquiry on Oct. 3, 2013, according to both official and unofficial reports.


FBI officials visited the home of beleaguered Energae LP promoter Darrell Duane Smith’s in Forest City, Iowa, on Oct. 3. It isn’t clear what they were looking for, or whether anyone was taken into custody.

Darrell Duane Smith was a stockbroker and insurance man who lost his licenses this past summer after Iowa insurance and investment officials alleged he’d improperly handled funds for clients. He was a promoter of Energae LP of Clear Lake, Iowa, and an associated I-Lenders company.

Local Forest City police officials confirmed they had assisted in an FBI action involving Smith. A separate witness said that at about 7 a.m.,  six vehicles stopped at his house at 115 Oakview Drive in Forest City, Iowa, and that four or five people went into the house and that two people stayed outside with the car. At about 9 a.m. Smith was taken out of the house and placed in one of the cars.  

Later in the morning, officials with FBI jackets arrived at Smith’s  Mason City office, where they took boxes out of the office. Jim Fitzsimmons, a lawyer in an action against Energae, whose office is above Smith’s in the same historic bank building in Mason City, told colleagues he spoke with the FBI officials, but that Smith didn’t appear to be there.

In a separate development, the Forest City Summit newspaper recently reported that on Aug. 30, 2013,  two properties owned by Darrell D. Smith and his wife, Julie A. Smith Vaagen (also listed as Julie A. Vaagen Smith),  were transferred only into the wife’s name, The transfer used a quit claim deed so there was no money transfer. The newspaper lists Smith’s wife as Julie Vaagen-Smith. City officials confirmed that the properties are in the Rainbow Valley subdivision, where the Vaagen-Smith and Smith live.

Neither Smith nor his lawyers returned messages from Agweek this week.

Agweek has been reporting on Smith and his activities with Energae, LP, since March 2012 when Smith promoted plans in Grafton, N.D., to refurbish a mothballed corn ethanol plant into one that made ethanol from sugar beets. That plan never got off the ground, but the company has a number of investors or lenders in the region.

Two sets of people with Park River, N.D., roots are among plaintiffs in two separate cases that sought to force the company into receivership, and to get Smith out of the company’s management. Energae had been associated with Permeate, a plant at Hopkinton, Iowa, and a separate waste-wood to electricity plant at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

For information about an earlier Energae meeting with investors, and for updates on recent actions involving Energae, go to Agweek, Oct. 7.

I took this photo of Darrell Duane Smith’s office in Mason City, Iowa, in the summer of 2012. In that case, I stopped to see Smith at about 9 a.m. on a weekday morning. One other man was there, waiting to see Smith. I took a walk and visited the famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel across the street. An hour later, I returned and still no one was there. The door was wide open. Smith was no longer working for Multi-Financial Securities. It isn’t clear what business was being transpired or how documents were secured in an unattended office.

Smith’s office was decorated nautical office art and objects — most notably deep sea diving helmets which are designed to allow the user to breathe and work under extreme water pressure while underwater.