Businessman, wife, loan officer face bank fraud charges

Ron Van Den Heuvel (WLUK file image)

A De Pere businessman, his wife and their loan officer are facing federal bank fraud conspiracy charges over more than $1 million in loans.

As FOX 11 has reported, the same businessman, Ron Van Den Heuvel, is also accused of defrauding the state's economic development agency, according to search warrants.

Van Den Heuvel told FOX 11 Tuesday afternoon that he doesn't believe he's done anything wrong.

The charges announced Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office involve loans made in 2008 and 2009.

The federal indictment alleges that Paul Piikkila, a loan officer at Horicon Bank in Appleton, approved a series of loans totaling more than $1 million. The indictment says Horicon Bank had told Piikkila not to loan any money to Van Den Heuvel, so none of the loans mentioned in the indictment were written to him by name.

The indictment says most of the money from the loans was given out for Van Den Heuvel and his business entities, even though they weren't designated as the borrowers. The indictment also says with one exception, the loans made as part of this scheme were not repaid.

FOX 11 spoke with Van Den Heuvel over the phone Tuesday afternoon.

"I don't think a jury of my peers will find that I did anything wrong," said Van Den Heuvel. "I don't steal money."

More than four years ago, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation loaned $1.2 million to Van Den Heuvel's company Green Box. Van Den Heuvel says that company is developing technology to produce recycled products, electricity and even diesel from fast-food waste.

Van Den Heuvel says his company is still behind on repaying that loan of taxpayer money.

WEDC's spokesman confirmed the process continues.

"In March 2015, WEDC declared Green Box in default on the terms of its $1,116,000 loan agreement. The receivership action is ongoing, WEDC along with the other creditors continue to collectively pursue collection action through the receiver," said Steven Michels in an email.

Brown County District Attorney David Lasee said Tuesday that he has no updates on a possible investigation into that loan.

As far as the federal indictment, the U.S. Attorney's Office says the arraignment for Van Den Heuvel, his wife Kelly and Piikkila is scheduled for May 6.

If convicted, Kelly Van Den Heuvel faces up to 65 years in prison; Ron Van Den Heuvel faces a maximum penalty of 365 years; and Piikkila faces up to five years in prison.

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