Grain-handling business operator faces 41 charges

Cary Ashby • Updated Nov 29, 2017 at 5:20 PM

A Monroeville man entered a “not guilty” plea Wednesday to 41 charges in connection with keeping about $3.5 million in profits from grain sales.

Richard J. Schwan, 78, of 671 N. Ohio 99, was indicted Nov. 17 by a Huron County grand jury through Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office. Huron County sheriff’s deputies arrested him Monday and transported him to the county jail.

Christian Stickhan, of DeWine’s office, and Dave Simmons, of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, represented the state during Wednesday’s hearing.

“The indictment says it was from about 2012 through at least 2014,” Stickhan said afterward, referring to the suspected offenses.

While the prosecutor said he’s not comfortable talking about the case “outside the four corners of the indictment,” he added the investigation involved the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Schwan was indicted on the following charges: 

• Seven counts of aggravated theft, all first-degree felonies

• Six counts of grand theft, all fourth-degree felonies

• Six counts of theft from the elderly, all third-degree felonies

• Nine counts of falsification in a theft offense, all third-degree felonies

• Three counts of insolvent handler not to accept deposits, all fourth-degree felonies

• One count of delayed price agreement, a fifth-degree felony

and nine counts of falsification, all first-degree misdemeanors.

“There are 41 separate counts,” Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said.

The judge asked Schwan if he has any prior felony convictions.

“No, never,” said the defendant, who also denied being on probation.

Schwan was doing business as Schwan Grain Inc. and registered with the state as a grain handler. According to DeWine’s office, he is accused of selling grain on behalf of 35 farmers and keeping $3.5 million in profits from grain sales. Schwan is also charged with filing several financial reports and documents with the Ohio Department of Agriculture which falsely reported and concealed his liabilities and the monies which he owed to farmers after he reportedly sold their grain and kept the proceeds.

Conway said the defendant has a significant amount of property, which would cover the $3.5 million and could be used as part of his personal recognizance bond. Schwan signed a court document in which he promised to appear for future hearings without paying any money and he was released from jail. Conway told the defendant he and Carolyn Schwan aren’t allowed to sell or transfer any of the property while the case is pending.

“She won’t sell any of it,” said Richard Schwan before the judge reminded his attorney needed to speak on his behalf.

“No objection,” defense attorney Neil McKown said.

Schwan’s trial date is April 24. His pre-trial hearings are scheduled for Feb. 26 and April 17.

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