Norwalk Reflector: Grain-handler must pay $3.2 million in restitution

Grain-handler must pay $3.2 million in restitution

Cary Ashby • Aug 23, 2018 at 7:00 PM

A 79-year-old state-registered grain-handler must pay slightly more than $3.2 million in restitution for failing to pay area farmers their shares of the profits.

Richard J. Schwan, of Monroeville, also was sentenced to a total of four years in prison Thursday. He faced up to 19 1/2 years.

Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway ruled the defendant’s term will be served accordingly: Four years for attempted aggravated theft; 30 months each for two counts of aggravated theft; 30 months for falsification in a theft offense; 17 months for being an insolvent handler; and 11 months for a delayed price agreement. Conway ordered Schwan to serve the sentences concurrently for a total of four years.

Schwan pleaded guilty to the six felonies during a July 9 hearing. As part of a plea deal, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office agreed to dismiss the remaining 35 charges, provided he repaid the restitution and an additional $105,358.50 to cover the cost of the investigation. The money will be used to reimburse the farmers, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Grain Indemnity Fund. All state farmers pay into the fund.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture investigated the case. Christian Stickan, a senior assistant attorney general, was the special prosecutor.

Schwan did business as Schwan Grain Inc. and registered with the state as a grain handler. The company transported and sold grain on behalf of 35 farmers from Erie, Huron, Lorain, Richland and Seneca counties.

He defrauded the farmers of property or services between June 2012 and Dec. 10, 2014 and promised to pay them back for grain, but didn’t do so, Stickan said in July. Also, the senior assistant attorney general said Schwan falsified a financial statement for the purpose of a theft. The insolvent handler-related felony covered a June 30, 2014 incident involving deposits when the defendant was a licensed handler.

“Ohio’s farmers work hard to produce their crops and this defendant callously took the profits of their labor,” DeWine said in an earlier prepared statement. “Our priority in this case has always been to recover the money that rightfully belonged to these farmers and a condition of this plea agreement required the defendant to promptly repay the money he stole.”

“We appreciate the work of all parties to resolve this matter, making sure Ohio farmers are protected for years to come,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels in an earlier statement.

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