Couple makes down payment on restitution

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Beechys must return balance at minimum $1,500 monthly

Warren Bluhm,

A Shawano County couple has been placed on two years of probation for issuing worthless checks and theft by false representation, both misdemeanor charges, in connection with a case in which they used much of the proceeds of a 2015 farm auction for their personal and business use.

Leroy F. Beechy, 48, and Mary E. Beechy, 47, entered into a 15-year deferred judgment agreement last month in Oconto County Circuit Court after pleading no contest to felony theft in a business setting. The main condition of the agreement is that they pay $375,234 in restitution to Nerfarms and farm owner James L. Nerenhausen Jr., with a down payment of $100,000 due at the June 27 sentencing for the misdemeanor counts.

The Beechys did make a payment of $101,500 before the sentencing. Judge Jay N. Conley accepted the agreement with prosecutors, under which the couple must pay a minimum of $1,500 monthly until the full amount is paid.

Other conditions include that they must obtain and maintain full-time employment, must submit DNA samples, and may only travel out of state for employment purposes.

If a payment is missed or job lost, Conley will consider conditional jail time. An 18-month jail sentence was imposed and stayed in the misdemeanor case, and the felony counts carry a potential for 10 years in prison if the deferred judgment agreement were to be violated.

According to court records, Nerenhausen hired Beechy’s to conduct the auction, which took place Nov. 11-12, 2015. The sale grossed $655,775 with a net of $590,725 to Nerfarms after costs and commissions were subtracted. Beechy’s issued a check for $577,234 on Dec. 17, 2015.

However, the check was returned for insufficient funds, leading to first a civil lawsuit and later the criminal charges. Online court records show the remaining balance is now $273,484.