MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 39-year-old Faribault man was sentenced for fraudulently writing 127 company checks to himself. United States District Court Judge David S. Doty sentenced Ronald Leo Schaeffer to 33 months in federal prison on one count of bank fraud in connection to the crime. Schaeffer was charged on December 6, 2012, and pleaded guilty on January 16, 2013.
In his plea agreement, Schaeffer admitted that from August of 2008 through April 2012, he stole approximately $432,504.10 from his employer, Environmental Tillage Systems Inc. (ETS). ETS, an agricultural manufacturing company in Faribault, hired Schaeffer as its sole in-house accountant. Among other duties, he was responsible for using the QuickBooks accounting software to record information regarding payments owed by ETS to vendors and employees.
Schaeffer admittedly wrote approximately 127 fraudulent checks against the ETS checking account, in amounts ranging from approximately $400 to $12,000, for deposit into his personal account. To conceal his actions, he then made false entries in ETS’s QuickBooks accounting records, indicating that the checks were issued to legitimate ETS vendors when that was not the case.
For a period of time, Schaeffer had the authority to use a signature stamp to validate company checks. Beginning in November 2010, however, he was directed to obtain the actual signature of ETS’s CEO or CFO on all checks before disbursing them. From that point on, he forged the signature of the CEO or CFO on any check that he wrote to himself. Schaeffer used the money he stole from the company to build a lake home in Elysian, Minnesota, and to make payments on his auto and home-equity loans.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin F. Langner.