William L. “Bill” Fricke, 55, former owner of the nowdefunct Archbold Elevator, entered no contest or guilty pleas to seven felony charges connected with the financial collapse of the elevator, Tuesday, Aug. 6.
In a press release, Scott A. Haselman, Fulton County prosecuting attorney, said Fricke entered a no-contest plea to the charge of grand theft.
When a defendant enters a no-contest plea, he does not admit to guilt, but does admit the truth of the charges against him. He was found guilty of the grand theft charge.
He also entered guilty pleas to charges of violating the rules for delayed price agreements, misapplication of corporate assets, and four counts of insolvent handler not to accept grain deposits.
Haselman said, “From March 2009 to April 2011, at the Archbold Elevator, he (Fricke) deprived farmers of grain bank corn with a value exceeding $7,500 but less than $150,000, he accepted deposits of agricultural commodities knowing the business was insolvent, failed to maintain commodities purchased under a delayed price agreement, and misapplied Archbold Elevator inventory, funds, or credits for his personal use.”
James Barber, Fulton County Common Pleas Court judge, ordered a pre-sentence investigation be conducted before a sentencing date is set.
Fricke was indicted by the Fulton County Grand Jury on Monday, April 15.
An 11-count indictment was handed down.
Charges not addressed in Fricke’s pleas were tampering with records, tampering with evidence, falsification in a theft offense, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
The Archbold Elevator license to handle grain was suspended by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, April 11, 2011, after a routine examination of company records.
ODA officials said at the time Archbold Elevator books showed the company had liabilities significantly higher than available assets, and that 50,000 bushels of corn that were supposed to be stored in elevator bins were missing.
The day after the license was suspended, Farmers & Merchants State Bank filed a $4.9 million suit against Fricke, Archbold Elevator, and several related companies.
A receiver was appointed, and the assets of the companies were sold.
Two other men, Steven A. Brink, 60, Archbold, and Todd J. Gerig, 36, West Unity, also were indicted by the grand jury on April 15 in connection with the elevator case.
Both were charged with one count each of tampering with evidence, grand theft, falsification, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, and violations of laws related to delayed price agreements.
Each man was also charged with four counts of insolvent handler not to accept grain deposits.
Charges against Brink and Gerig are pending.