WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WFRV) – A Wisconsin cheese company owner has pleaded guilty to felony theft from more than 80 farmers in Wood County.
In January, Michael Moran, owner of Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese Company, was charged with one count of felony theft. Attorney General Josh Kaul stated that Moran forged the names of farmers on underpayment checks before converting the funds for his own use or the use of others.
Processors, such as cheese plants, write underpayment checks to producers, such as dairy farmers, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets the price of milk higher than what a processor initially paid for the milk. USDA auditors determine the amount of underpayment and order processors to issue the underpayment checks.
According to AG Kaul, Moran has been sentenced to one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and nearly $10,000 in fines and other costs.
“I’m proud of the work Wisconsin Department of Justice did to get justice for these hard-working Wisconsinites,” said AG Kaul. “This case has ensured that 83 farmers got the money they were owed and hopefully will deter future theft from Wisconsin dairy farmers.”
A Friday release says Moran pre-paid restitution in the amount of $21,250.97, which was the total loss for about 83 victimized milk producers. This money was paid to the clerk of courts who will distribute the restitution to the victims.
The complaint claimed that after the defendant would forge the payees’ signatures on the back of the checks, he would then place them in the cash register at the cheese store thereby converting them for his own use, all without the consent of the payees. The checks from the register would then be taken together to the bank at the end of the week and deposited.
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