An Appleton, Wisconsin loan officer who was charged alongside a De Pere businessman for his role in a federal bank fraud case has pleaded guilty to his role in defrauding his employers, Horicon Bank of more than $700,000, authorities have announced.
Paul Piikkila, 53, of Appleton, had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy before filing a plea agreement at the U.S. District Court in Milwaukee. Hearing on his change of plea is now scheduled for July 22.
As part of the plea agreement, Piikkila has agreed to testify in court against De Pere businessman Ron Van Den Heuvel, who had pleaded not guilty to a 13-count indictment filed before a federal grand jury in April.
Between January 2008 and September 2009, Piikkila helped Van Den Heuvel and his wife to secure more than $1 million in loans from Horicon Bank, mostly through straw borrowers, the money was then used to pay off Van Den Heuvel’s other debts.
Already, Horicon bank authorities had given specific instructions to Piikita not to issue any loans to the Van Den Heuvels, as his previous application for a $7.1 million was turned down by the bank on the grounds that he “was not a good credit risk,” the plea document stated.
The plea agreement also states that the collateral used on the straw loans controlled by Van Den Heuvel were “often inadequate as security for the loans.”
“Property was not worth what it was represented to be worth,” the plea agreement states. “Ownership of some of the collateral was in dispute and it appears that Ron pledged collateral that he did not necessarily own.”
According to the plea agreement, “all of the witnesses agree that Ron and Kelly Van Den Heuvel lived a high-end life style including an expensive house, another residence in Florida, expensive automobiles, a live-in nanny, expansive use of credit cards and a private plane, all this despite little evidence of actual business activity by any of Ron’s business entities.”
In September 2011, Van Den Heuvel was also able to secure $1 million in loans for one of his many companies, Green Box NA Green Bay, from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. He failed to disclose previous lawsuits in his loan application and a WEDC staff review stated the application’s only weakness was that it was a startup. Despite an extended repayment period, Van Den Heuvel was unable to pay back the loan which went into default in early 2015.
A judge has placed the company in receivership, but so far the money has not been repaid.
A federal trial in the bank fraud case scheduled to begin July 11 has been postponed
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