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OCONTO – An Shawano County couple faces prison time after bilking a farm owner out of nearly $390,000 worth of proceeds following a November 2015 auction.

Leroy Beechy, 47, Marion, and his wife, Mary Beechy, 46, of Bonduel, are both charged with theft in a business setting. Leroy Beechy was initially charged with the theft and issuing a worthless check on June 1, 2017.

According to court records, a jury trial was set for August in Leroy's case. However, the trial was suspended after law enforcement officials learned that Mary Beechy had allegedly written the worthless check and was charged with the crime on Oct. 10.

In the meantime, the district attorney's office will review charges against Leroy Beechy. 

The couple own and operate Beechy's Dairy Cattle Auctions LCC in Marion. According to the businesses' Facebook page, the operation is permanently closed.

According to the criminal complaint, Leroy Beechy, doing business as Beechy’s Dairy Cattle Auctions LLC, entered into a contract with James L. Nerenhauser Jr. to sell livestock and machinery for his operation, Nerfarms LLC of the town of Little River.

According to a sale bill posted on the Beechy's Facebook page, the two-day auction slated for Nov. 11-12, 2015, featured 710 head of beef cattle, including cows, heifers,  calves and bulls as well as large supplies of feed and bedding. The machinery auction featured a comprehensive line of equipment including a combine, several tractors, trucks, planting and harvesting equipment.

Court records indicate that the sale produced $655,775 in gross proceeds, of which $590,725 was due to Nerfarms after costs and commissions were taken out. According to the contract, proceeds of the sale were due within 24 hours of the sale. Beechy's Dairy Cattle Auctions issued a check for $577,234 on Dec. 17, 2015, which was returned to Nerenhauser marked insufficient funds.

Investigators determined that the auction company’s business account had insufficient funds on Nov. 12, 2015, to pay two checks totaling about $2,200. After the money from the auction was deposited to Beechy's general business account, from Nov. 12 to Dec. 31, 2015, there were 102 automatic withdrawals by three creditors totaling nearly $147,000.

The complaint against Mary Beechy alleges that $201,000 was transferred from the business account to the couple’s personal account at their bank over the same period.

There were also four cash withdrawal, totaling $6,400 from Nov. 19 to Dec. 9, 2015.

The Beechys also issued 23 checks for just over $317,000, but only made deposits of $166,519 in November and December, the complaint added.

Following a demand for full restitution by Nerenhauser's attorney, Nerfarms received payments of $100,000 on Feb. 9, 2016 and $102,000 on March 9, 2016, leaving an overdue balance of $388,725, according to the complaint.

Nerfarms LLC filed suit against Leroy Beechy and his company on April 7, 2016, seeking the remainder of the money. Judge Jay N. Conley granted a default judgment on July 13, 2016. When the balance remained unpaid, prosecutors filed criminal charges against Leroy Beechy who entered a not guilty plea, according to court records.

A motion hearing and pretrial conference in both their cases is scheduled for Dec. 14.The state is seeking to join their trials. The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 13 1/2 years.

Kent Tempus of the Oconto County Reporter contributed to this report.

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