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Green Box fraud convict Van Den Heuvel loses bid for early release over COVID-19 worries
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (From news reports) -- A De Pere man convicted of bilking investors out of millions of dollars won't get out of prison because of health reasons or worries over COVID-19, a judge ruled.

Ronald Van Den Heuvel, 67, was the cause of many of his own health problems by being non-compliant with medical and prison directives, U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled this week.

And the federal prison in Duluth, Minn., where Van Den Heuvel is serving out his 7.5-year sentence, has done all the right things in preventing the spread of COVID-19, Griesbach said.

Van Den Heuvel was convicted in U.S. District Court in Green Bay of fraudulently soliciting loans and investments to pursue his business, Green Box, which he represented as an operation that would convert solid waste into consumer products and energy.

He was already serving a three-year sentence for defrauding Horicon Bank of more than $300,000 by taking loans based on false representations when he received additional prison time for defrauding investors.

In his plea agreement, he acknowledged using investors' money to buy Green Bay Packers tickets, settle legal disputes, make court-ordered payments to his ex-wife, and pay mortgage and property tax bills.

He asked for a reduction in his sentence, and also for permission to serve out his time at home. Van Den Heuvel claimed his age and precarious health should make him a candidate for "immediate compassionate release."

He claimed he has a serious autoimmune disease and that he has lost 68 pounds, a big toe and several teeth because of diabetes.

Griesbach rejected the argument, saying Van Den Heuvel ignored medical directives to avoid walking on a foot that was giving him problems, and that he was non-compliant with diet and exercise programs ordered by the prison medical staff, which led to a weight gain and insulin dose increase.

"His difficulties in this regard seem primarily due to his own non-compliance," Griesbach said.

The Bureau of Prisons has so far been able to ward off COVID-19 outbreaks, Griesbach added.

"Van Den Heuvel's crimes were serious," Griesbach said in his order. "They were the culmination of a long track record of manipulating, exploiting, and defrauding others to fuel his high-end lifestyle. The fact that the losses total some $9.8 million reflects the scope and magnitude of his fraud."

Dr. Marco Araujo, a former Green Bay anaesthesiologist and friend of Van Den Heuvel's, who was cheated out of $600,000 in the scheme, said he was pleased that Van Den Heuvel's request was denied. However, Araujo renewed his call for the judicial system to make Van Den Heuvel pay restitution for his crimes.

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