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A federal grand jury this week indicted a Wisconsin businessman on charges that he conspired to fraudulently obtain bank loans.
Ronald Van Den Heuvel, 62, of De Pere was indicted Tuesday along with his 52-year-old wife and a bank employee, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Wisconsin Gregory J. Haanstad said.
The indictment alleges Van Den Heuvel; his wife, Kelly, who had her own corporation; and Paul Piikkila, 53, of Appleton, a loan officer at Horicon Bank, conspired to defraud the bank through loans made in 2008 and 2009. Prosecutors allege the loans were used to pay Van Den Heuvel’s employees and other debts, and the bank’s losses totaled more than $700,000.
Van Den Heuvel, founder of Green Box, a green energy company in Green Bay, is a longtime contributor to state politicians. The alleged bank fraud is separate from business deals in which Wisconsin’s flagship jobs agency — the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. — gave his businesses $1.2 million in loans but was later criticized for not looking closely enough into the company. Search warrants showed Van Den Heuvel was suspected of misrepresenting his business in that case, something he has denied.
According to the indictment, Piikkila approved more than $1 million in loans to corporations and individuals that were fronts for the Van Den Heuvels, despite Horicon Bank telling Piikkila not to loan money to Van Den Heuvel. Court documents allege the loans were not used for their intended purpose and were not backed with enough collateral.
The three are due in court May 6, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Van Den Heuvel and his attorney did not respond to messages from the newspaper seeking comment on the indictment. Piikkila’s attorney, Dan Sanders, said his client is cooperating with investigators.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Johnson said he was unable to comment on whether Van Den Heuvel’s conduct with WEDC also was the focus of an ongoing federal investigation.
Brown County sheriff’s deputies also raided the businessman’s offices last summer, according to the newspaper.
A spokesman for WEDC said the agency has improved its lending practices and continues to seek repayment of the Green Box loans for taxpayers.