STEVENS POINT (WAOW) - A former Stevens Point potato broker accused of stealing more than $700,000 from growers and truckers who provided him goods and services but were never paid for them pleaded not guilty Monday, according to online Portage County court records.
Thomas Lundgren, 54, of Columbus is charged with 16 felony counts of theft in a business setting involving more than $10,000 in incidents from August 2011 to August 2012 involving potatoes grown by farmers and hauled by trucking companies, according to a criminal complaint.
Lundgren had originally been charged with 10 counts, and six more counts from Langlade County were added Monday by "stipulation," court records said. No trial date was immediately set.
Lundgren started Stevens Point-based Spud City Sales in 2006, the complaint said.
The so-called victim farmers demanded payment from Lundgren and his associates multiple times under terms of deals that called for payment within 10 to 30 days after Lundgren sold their potatoes - minus a brokerage fee, the complaint said.
The growers and truckers, from Adams, Columbus, Langlade, Portage and Waushara counties and Ohio, were "consistently told" that payments were in the mail, the complaint said.
Lundgren told investigators Spud City Sales began having financial troubles following a $125,000 federal lawsuit filed against him by an Ohio grower, the complaint said. "The defendant admitted he could not keep up with his bills, including the business' bills and bills related to his divorce."
One of Lundgren's employees who quit his job because of the payment dispute with growers said Lundgren told him "he was going through a divorce, having a new female relationship and had been taking vacations or traveling which affected his personal finances," the complaint said.