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Excavation co. owner charged with embezzling from employees (UPDATE)

By: Jack Zemlicka, [email protected]//September 29, 2011//

Excavation co. owner charged with embezzling from employees (UPDATE)

By: Jack Zemlicka, [email protected]//September 29, 2011//

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The owner of Allen Howe & Son Inc. is facing charges he embezzled more than $56,000 from employees.

A federal grand jury on Wednesday in Madison indicted Allen Howe of the town of Lake Mills-based excavation company for withholding $56,723.74 from workers retirement savings plans from 2006-09.

According to the indictment, Howe “knowingly” and “willfully” stole the money for his own use and failed to make payments to any financial institution on behalf of his employees.

Phone numbers for Howe and his business were disconnected and the company website domain name no longer is in use.

“He allegedly didn’t pay the employee contributions owed to the hedge fund,” said Peter Jarosz, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, who is prosecuting the case. He would not comment further on the details of the company, including how many employees were effected.

The charge is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, said Jarosz, who also would not comment further on the case.

If convicted, Howe, 63, could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Howe has a recent history of financial and legal trouble, including five complaints filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development between August 2009 and September 2010.

The first three complaints sought more than $37,000 in unemployment compensation owed by Howe. The most recent complaints were for more than $22,000 owed in workers’ compensation.

DWD communications director John Dipko was unavailable to immediately comment on the status of the cases. The Wisconsin Court System website lists all five cases as active.

Last year, Howe filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in federal court, and the action was completed Nov. 17, according to the Western District Bankruptcy Court Clerk of Court’s office.

According to town of Lake Mills clerk Robin Untz, Allen Howe & Son no longer is in business, but she said she did not know when the company closed its doors or how many employees worked at the company.

Sharon Guenterberg, town of Lake Mills treasurer, said the company had been in business for about 35 years.

Howe is due to make his initial appearance in federal court Oct. 26 in Madison.


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