GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (From news reports) - De Pere businessman Ron Van Den Heuvel will plead guilty Friday to one count of fraud as part of a plea agreement reached this week with federal prosecutors.
Van Den Heuvel was charged in September 2017 with 14 counts of defrauding investors in his Green Box businesses out of more than $9.3 million between 2011 and 2015.
Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of no more than 7.5 years. The first three years of the sentence would be served at the same time as a three-year sentence in a separate bank fraud case.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and a fine of $250,000.
The plea agreement, filed in federal court on Tuesday, provides details about how Van Den Heuvel secured millions of dollars from investors who expected the money would be used to buy machines, equipment and space for Green Box, a company he claimed would convert food-contaminated waste into consumer products with no wastewater or byproducts.
Instead, the government's plea agreement documents how Van Den Heuvel used some of the investors' money for personal expenses, including:
$44,100 for Packers tickets
$150,000 to settle legal disputes
$133,315 in court-ordered payments to his ex-wife
$6,400 toward a mortgage on a Florida home
$33,000 for a family member's dental work
$89,000 for a Cadillac Escalade
$16,570 to Wisconsin International School for his children's tuition
$52,200 in property taxes
$45,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by his former nanny
$63,200 in cash
According to court documents, Van Den Heuvel agreed to repay his victims. They include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp, a Green Bay doctor, a Montreal investment firm and nine Chinese individuals who agreed to invest in the business as a pathway to American citizenship.
The plea agreement does not preclude U.S. District Court Judge William Griesbach from sentencing Van Den Heuvel to more or less time in prison. Van Den Heuvel is also free to argue that he deserves a shorter sentence.
In the bank fraud case, Van Den Heuvel pleaded guilty to one count of fraud in connection to a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $1 million in bank loans under the names of Green Box employees and a relative. Prosecutors portrayed the employees and relative as straw borrowers who did not receive the money and were not expected to repay it.
Van Den Heuvel was allowed to remain free after sentencing to participate in his defense in the Green Box case. However, Griesbach ordered him jailed in July after prosecutors alleged he committed more fraud and also intimidated witnesses.