MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 39-year-old Faribault, Minn., man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to writing 127 fraudulent checks to himself, stealing more than $400,000 from his employer and using the cash to build a lake home in Elysian, Minn.
Ronald Leo Schaeffer pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in connection to the crime, and in his plea agreement, he admitted that from August 2008 through April 2012 he stole $432,504.10 from Environmental Tillage Systems, Inc.
ETC, an agricultural manufacturing company in Faribault, Minn., hired Schaeffer as its only in-house accountant. Schaeffer admittedly wrote approximately 127 checks against the ETS personal account, in amounts ranging from $400 to $12,000 for deposit into his personal account.
To hide his actions, he made false entries into the ETS’ QuickBooks accounting records to make it appear as if the checks were issued to legitimate ETS vendors.
In the beginning, Schaeffer had the authority to use a signature stamp to validate company checks, but then in November 2010, he had to obtain the actual signatures of ETS’ CEO or CFO.
At that point, he began forging the signature of the CEO or CFO.
Schaeffer’s legal representation, Halberg Criminal Defense, released the following on his behalf.
“Since the initiation of the investigation, Mr. Schaefer has cooperated with law enforcement,” the statement reads. “Mr. Schaefer has no prior criminal history, but unfortunately he made a poor decision to misappropriate funds belonging to his employer. Mr. Schaefer has never denied his wrongdoing and intends to make full restitution to his employer. This is the first and only criminal offense in Mr. Schaefer’s life, and we hope the court will take that into consideration at the time of sentencing. A date has not yet been set for sentencing, and it will not occur for several months.”