A co-owner of a small-town restaurant in southwestern Minnesota has been sentenced to prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a bank where she also worked. Authorities believe the scheme cost the bank more than $1 million.
Barbara Kaye Rechtzigel, 48, of Belview, Minn., is scheduled to start serving her two-year term Feb. 4 at the federal prison in Waseca, Minn.
From 1998 till June 2012, Rechtzigel used hundreds of thousands of dollars from CD accounts of customers at Minnwest Bank in Marshall, where she was senior operations manager, to pay off shopping debts.
Rechtzigel admitted in court that she created false paperwork to make bank customers believe their CDs had been renewed and were earning interest. The bank ultimately paid customers victimized by the scheme the value of their CDs -- more than $1 million.
In arguing for a sentence of more than three years, prosecutors said in a court filing that Rechtzigel "made a career out of criminal activity, engaging in a continuous stream of unabated lies and deception."
As a bank officer, Rechtzigel "was in a high position of trust both with her employer and her customers," the government argued. "She violated that trust repeatedly over a period of years."
Rechtzigel, who could have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, sought a term of 16 months, pointing out her otherwise clean record and charitable service to the community.
Rechtzigel and her husband, Ken, have owned the Brauhaus Restaurant and Bar on Main Street in Lucan, Minn., since 2008.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482