GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (From news reports) -- Ron Van Den Heuvel pleaded guilty in one federal fraud case on Tuesday then pleaded not guilty in another.
U.S. District Court Judge William Griesbach accepted the plea agreement and found Van Den Heuvel, 63, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The charge is one of 19 related to loans Van Den Heuvel obtained from Horicon Bank through straw borrowers for Green Box, a recycling company he owned at the time.
The terms of the plea agreement will keep Van Den Heuvel out of jail until a Securities and Exchange Commission fraud case against him is resolved. The agreement calls for him to pay Horicon Bank $316,445 in restitution. The other 18 counts were dismissed but can be factored in at sentencing.
In exchange, prosecutors dropped all charges against his wife, Kelly Van Den Heuvel, and agreed to recommend a prison sentence at the lower end of federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors said Tuesday that range will be between 33 and 41 months, though Griesbach can ignore all guidelines and recommendations in deciding the sentence.
Van Den Heuvel will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 5.
During the 30-minute hearing, Van Den Heuvel tried to stress that he had no intent to defraud anyone. Griesbach told him the court was "not going to play games" when it came to intent since intent is inherent in a conspiracy to defraud a bank. When Griesbach asked whether he was guilty of conspiring to commit bank fraud, Van Den Heuvel paused before answering, "Yes, sir."
After accepting Van Den Heuvel's guilty plea, Griesbach pivoted to the SEC's 14-count complaint that Van Den Heuvel defrauded investors out of $9 million. The complaint includes 10 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by making false statements and four counts of conducting unlawful financial transactions.
Van Den Heuvel entered not guilty pleas to all 14 counts.
For each wire fraud charge, Van Den Heuvel faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The unlawful transactions charges each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine equal to twice the value of the transactions in question.
The SEC alleges investors' money for Green Box Green Bay and other entities Van Den Heuvel controlled was spent instead on two Cadillac SUVs, Green Bay Packers tickets and other personal enrichment.
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