De Pere businessman reaches plea deal in bank fraud case

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A De Pere businessman who defrauded a local bank has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

A federal grand jury indicted Ron Van Den Heuvel on 19 counts, alleging that he took part in a scheme to defraud Horicon Bank. As part of the plea deal, Van Den Heuvel pleaded guilty to count one: conspiracy to commit fraud.

The indictment states that Van Den Heuvel approached a loan officer working at the Appleton branch of Horicon Bank and said he owned or controlled at least seven business entities. In late 2007 or early 2008, Van Den Heuvel obtained a loan of $250,000 from the bank for one of his businesses. Van Den Heuvel never paid back the loan.

In March of 2008, he approached the same loan officer and asked for $7,100,000 for another of his business entities. Loans over $250,000 must be signed off by the bank's Business Lenders Committee. The committee refused.

After failing to secure the multi-million dollar loan, the loan officer issued a series of loans at $250,000 or less, meaning the transactions didn't have to be approved by the bank's higher authorities.

Instead of making the loans out to Van Den Heuvel, the loan officer made them out to "straw borrowers." Straw borrowers don't actually receive the money from the loan, so they don't consider themselves responsible for paying it back. Van Den Heuvel had people in his life agree to be the straw borrowers.

The money issued to the straw borrowers was used by Van Den Heuvel and his business entities. In some cases, money was moved around to pay off Van Den Heuvel's other debts or for personal expenses.

The indictment states only one of the loans was repaid.

The scheme resulted in the bank losing $700,000.

Van Den Heuvel's guilty plea comes with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Van Den Heuvel has also agreed to pay more than $316,000 in restitution to Horicon Bank.

The government will dismiss all other counts in the indictment during sentencing.

In a separate case, a grand jury has indicted Van Den Heuvel on 14 counts of wire fraud and money laundering. He is accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $9 million in loans and investments for his eco-friendly "Green Box" business plan.

The indictment alleges that Van Den Heuvel claimed that Green Box could turn post consumer waste into usable consumer products and energy.

Instead, of using the money on his business, the indictment claims Van Den Heuvel used the money on personal expenses; including a new Cadillac Escalade, pricey Green Bay Packers tickets, and court-ordered support payments for his ex-wife.

Van Den Heuvel allegedly defrauded a range of victims, including individual acquaintances, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a Canadian private investment firm, and Chinese investors in the EB-5 immigrant investor program.