United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced that on January 5, 2018, Ronald Van Den Heuvel (age: 62) of De Pere was sentenced to three years in federal prison. Van Den Heuvel had pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Horicon Bank, a federally insured financial institution, by obtaining loans based on false representations in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Chief United States District Judge William C. Griesbach also ordered Van Den Heuvel to serve three years of supervision after his release from prison and to pay $316,445.79 in restitution to the bank.
The conspiracy occurred in 2008 and 2009 during which Van Den Heuvel held himself out as a successful businessman in the Green Bay area. In January 2008, Van Den Heuvel persuaded a Horicon Bank loan officer, Paul Piikkila, to approve a $250,000 loan to one of Van Den Heuvel’s companies. Thereafter, Horicon Bank officials instructed Piikkila not to loan any additional funds to Van Den Heuvel or his businesses because Van Den Heuvel posed too great a credit risk. To skirt that instruction, Van Den Heuvel and Piikkila arranged a series of loans, totaling over $1 million, to straw borrowers for the benefit of Van Den Heuvel and his business entities. The straw borrowers had no intention of paying back the loans and believed that Van Den Heuvel would be responsible for the loans.
The straw borrowers included Van Den Heuvel’s live-in nanny, who depended upon the Van Den Heuvels for her livelihood. Another straw borrower was Van Den Heuvel’s administrative assistant, whom he named an officer of a limited liability company for the purpose of taking out the loan. The loans generally were not used for the business purposes represented on the loan applications. Van Den Heuvel failed to repay many of the loans. Horicon Bank incurred substantial losses even after trying to recover the collateral pledged for the loans. Piikkila has also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
During sentencing, Chief Judge Griesbach emphasized the seriousness of the offense and admonished Van Den Heuvel for trying to deny responsibility for his conduct. The Court stated: “Mr. Van Den Heuvel presents himself as a selfless entrepreneur and philanthropist even today. It is a lie.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by former Assistant United States Attorney Mel S. Johnson and Assistant United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger.
Van Den Heuvel also faces additional federal criminal charges in a separate case, United States v. Van Den Heuvel, 17-CR-170. The indictment in that case alleges that from 2011 to 2015, Van Den Heuvel engaged in a scheme to defraud lenders and investors related to his Green Box business plan. Van Den Heuvel has pleaded not guilty in that case. The public is cautioned that an indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.
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