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Paynesville Press - September 18, 2002

Former company president indicted

By Michael Jacobson

Steven Lind - the former president of Quality Checked Plastics, Inc., in Paynesville - was arrested last week by federal agents for allegedly embezzling pension funds and for a mail fraud scheme.

Lind, 54, now living in Ohio, was charged in an 18-count indictment by a federal grand jury on Thursday, Sept. 5. The indictment was sealed pending Lind's arrest.

According to the indictment, Lind began working at Quality Checked Plastics, a plastics recycling business in Paynesville, in 1991 and was later promoted to president. In 1998, Lind established an employee pension benefit plan and named himself trustee for the plan.

The grand jury alleged that between January 1998 and February 2000 Lind embezzled approximately $15,400 from the pension plan.

The grand jury also alleged that from 1994 to February 2000, Lind devised a scheme to obtain over $200,000 in money and property belonging to Quality Checked Plastics and its employees. During the scheme, Lind allegedly purchased items and services for his own benefit using corporate credit cards provided by Quality Checked Plastics, paid himself a salary in excess of that approved by the company's board of directors, and wrote checks payable to himself from the company's bank accounts.

During the scheme, Lind also allegedly did not pay taxes owed by Quality Checked Plastics to the IRS or pay employee contributions to the pension plan. The grand jury alleged that Lind diverted money and funds to his own use.

Lind faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine on each count of theft, mail fraud, and wire fraud (four counts); up to ten years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine for false securities (one count); up to 30 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine on each count of false statements on bank loan applications (12 counts); and up to one year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine for failure to file an ERISA report (one count).

"Employees who contribute to a pension fund are entitled to know that their investments are safe and secure," said United States Attorney Tom Heffelfinger. "Employees who 'borrow' or dip into pension funds for company or personal purposes abuse their employees' trust."

Quality Checked Plastics has had four loans from the Economic Development Authority of Paynesville (EDAP), all of which are up-to-date. Two loans have been repaid, and two others have been refinanced. One of these has also been repaid, and the company is still paying the final loan, which is up-to-date.

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