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Faribault Man Charged with Bank Fraud

This news story was published on December 9, 2012.
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MINNEAPOLIS—Today in federal court, a 39-year-old Faribault man was charged with bank fraud for allegedly writing 127 false checks to himself. Ronald Lea Schaeffer was charged via an information with one count of bank fraud.

According to the information, in January 2008, Schaeffer was hired by Environmental Tillage Systems Inc. (ETS), an agricultural manufacturing company in Faribault, as its sole in-house accountant. His responsibility was to use QuickBooks accounting software to record information regarding payments owed by ETS to vendors and employees. From August 2008 until April 2012, Schaeffer allegedly devised and executed a scheme to obtain money fraudulently by writing approximately 127 false checks, with amounts ranging from approximately $400 to $12,000, to his bank account from the ETS checking account. Schaeffer purportedly created false entries in ETS’s QuickBooks accounting records that made it appear as if ETS had written the forged checks to legitimate ETS vendors.

Although Schaeffer had the authority to use a signature stamp to validate the checks for a period of time, beginning in November 2010, he was required to obtain the signature of ETS’s CEO or CFO on all ETS checks before releasing the checks to payees. Thus, Schaeffer purportedly began forging the signature of either ETS’s CEO or CFO on the checks that he wrote to himself. The information alleges that Schaeffer fraudulently obtained a total of approximately $432,504.10 from ETS through this scheme. Schaeffer purportedly used this money to build a lake house in Elysian, Minnesota, and to make payments on home equity or auto loans.

If convicted, Schaeffer faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, as well as possible fines and forfeitures. Of course, all sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin F. Langner.

A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.

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