William L. “Bill” Fricke, 55, former owner of the now-defunct Archbold Elevator, has entered no contest and guilty pleas to several charges connected with the financial collapse of the elevator.
In a press release, Scott A. Haselman, Fulton County prosecuting attorney, said Fricke entered a no contest plea to a 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, Monday, April 15. An 11-count indictment was handed down, charging Fricke with tampering with evidence, grand theft, tampering with records, falsification in a theft offense, violating rules for delayed price agreements, misapplication of corporate funds, and four counts of insolvent handler not to accept grain deposits.
Archbold Elevator’s license to handle grain was suspended by the Ohio Department of Agriculture on April 11, 2011, after a routine examination of the company’s records.
ODA officials said at the time Archbold Elevator books shows the company had liabilities significantly higher than available assets, and that 50,000 bushels of corn that were supposed to be store in the elevator’s bins were missing.
Two other men, Steven A. Brink, 60, Archbold, and Todd J. Gerig, 36, West Unity, were also indicted by the grand jury on April 15 in connection with the case.
Each was 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 still pending.-Posted 8.7, 4;24 pm