MADISON, Wis. — A De Pere businessman charged with defrauding the state's economic development agency and other investors out of more than $9 million plans to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud.
The deal is part of a plea agreement Ronald H. Van Den Heuvel entered into with federal prosecutors in Green Bay, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday. The case drew criticism from Democrats over the management of the state's economic development agency because it wrote off a $1.1 million loan to Van Den Heuvel.
The Van Den Heuvel loan was one of several botched deals by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. that prompted a review of agency practices and a temporary suspension of the agency's loan program.
Van Den Heuvel is expected to plead guilty Friday. Prosecutors plan to recommend that he be sentenced to 7½ years in prison. That would be concurrent with a three-year prison sentence he received in January for defrauding the Horicon Bank out of more than $700,000 starting in 2008.
The remaining 13 counts against Van Den Heuvel would be dismissed under the plea agreement.
Van Den Heuvel, owner of Green Box NA, was charged last year with 10 counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering. WEDC's $1.1 million loan was supposed to help the company create 116 jobs by December 2014 as part of a project valued at more than $13 million to turn fast-food wrappers and other waste paper into synthetic fuel and paper products, all through an environmentally sound process that was touted to produce no waste.
The $1.1 million loan from WEDC, along with a $95,000 grant, was used in part to make court-ordered payments to his ex-wife, and $45,000 went to settle a lawsuit by a former nanny.
Prosecutors allege that Van Den Heuvel persuaded WEDC and other investors to give him money by falsely claiming that he had entered into agreements with major companies to advance Green Box's operations and that he produced false financial statements that grossly inflated his personal wealth and financial situation.
Under the plea agreement, Van Den Heuvel agreed to pay at least $9.4 million in restitution to lenders and investors. He also acknowledged that paying restitution won't restrict or preclude the filing of lawsuits against him, according to the plea agreement.