Accountant Accused of Stealing $433K From Faribault Co.

While working at Environmental Tillage Systems, Ronald Lea Schaeffer allegedly wrote false checks from the company to himself and used the stolen funds to build a lake house in Elysian, Minnesota, and to make payments on home equity or auto loans.

An accountant at a Faribault-based agricultural manufacturing company was recently charged with one count of bank fraud for allegedly defrauding the company of $432,504, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota.
 
Ronald Lea Schaeffer, 39, joined Environmental Tillage Systems, Inc. (ETS), in January 2008 as its sole in-house accountant, the Attorney's Office said. He was responsible for using accounting software to record information about money that the company owed to vendors and employees.
 
Between August 2008 and April 2012, Schaeffer allegedly wrote 127 false checks from ETS to himself—and made entries in ETS’ accounting records that made it appear as if the company had written the forged checks to legitimate company vendors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The sums on the checks ranged from roughly $400 to $12,000.
 
In the beginning, Schaeffer was authorized to use a signature stamp to validate checks. But beginning in November 2010, he was required to obtain the signature of ETS’ CEO or chief financial officer (CFO) on all checks prior to releasing them to payees. Instead, he allegedly began forging the signature of the CEO or CFO on checks that he wrote to himself.
 
Schaeffer purportedly used the stolen funds—which totaled $432,504 over the course of the scheme—to build a lake house in Elysian, a small city located about 20 miles west of Faribault, and to make payments on home equity or auto loans.
 
If convicted, Schaeffer faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison, along with possible fines and forfeitures.
 
He was charged via information, or without a grand jury indictment, which generally indicates that a plea agreement is expected.