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Van Den Heuvel wants to withdraw guilty plea in bank fraud case

Ron Van Den Heuvel (WLUK file image)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) – A De Pere business man wants to withdraw his guilty plea in a bank fraud case, just days before he is scheduled to be sentenced.

Ron Van Den Heuvel, owner of Green Box, pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Sentencing is set for Friday morning in Green Bay federal court.

After two motions to delay the sentencing were denied by Judge William Griesbach, Van Den Heuvel’s attorney filed a motion Tuesday to withdraw his plea, and requested a hearing.

“The defendant maintains that his plea was not knowingly and voluntarily made; that he asserts both factual and legal innocence; that there has not been an unreasonable amount of time between the guilty plea and the instant motion; and that the government will not be prejudiced if the relief sought is granted,” wrote attorney Robert LeBell.

“The defendant maintains that the plea was forced and precipitated, in large measure, in order to exculpate and free his wife and co-defendant. He now claims that his plea was not voluntary in that it was made to exonerate his wife, despite his own factual and legal innocence. Additionally, he has conducted further review of the available discovery and has concluded that evidence from the search warrant of his building was used by investigators to conduct follow up investigations and interviews, and thereby obtain evidence which would be used at trial. The documents seized from the search warrant of his businesses were the subject of a suppression motion. The parties stipulated to withdraw the search warrant challenge through an agreement that no evidence seized would be used at trial. However, the defendant now maintains that he has discovered evidence that investigators used the evidence in follow up interviews and investigation in the instant action,” the motion states.

Prosecutors did not immediately reply to the motion. No hearing, other than the sentencing, is currently on the calendar.

At the October plea hearing, Van Den Heuvel repeatedly said there was no intent to commit any crime. Van Den Heuvel was also admonished by Judge Griesbach at one point, who told Van Den Heuvel that if the guilty plea was accepted, he couldn’t later argue he was innocent. Van Den Heuvel faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Van Den Heuvel also agreed to pay restitution of $316,445.79.

He also faces prosecution in a second case, which is still pending. A scheduling conference will be held March 16. In that case, prosecutors allege Van Den Heuvel raised more than $9 million from investors, including the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., for his company, Green Box, but used some of the money on personal items, including a car and Packers tickets. If convicted of all 14 counts, he faces up 240 years in prison and more than $2.5 million in fines.

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