Duluth man gets five years prison for theftMADISON — A Duluth man faces at least five years in prison after pleading guilty last month in federal court to interstate transportation of stolen vehicles.
By: By Kevin Murphy/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON — A Duluth man faces at least five years in prison after pleading guilty last month in federal court to interstate transportation of stolen vehicles.
Gale A. Rachuy, 61, had been accused of using checks drawn on closed or otherwise worthless bank accounts to purchase vehicles and take them from Minnesota to Wisconsin or, Wisconsin to Minnesota knowing the vehicles were obtained by fraud.
One of the vehicles was obtained by a $35,675 check Rachuy wrote to Benna Ford, of Superior on April 20, 2010, according to court documents.
“A vehicle doesn’t have to be taken without an owner’s permission to be considered stolen under federal law. It can be obtained by trickery, fraud or other illegal means,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Sinnott.
All the vehicles involved in the case were recovered within weeks to months of Rachuy obtaining them, said Sinnott.
In exchange for Rachuy’s guilty plea, Sinnott has agreed to recommend a five-year prison sentence, to be served concurrently with a five-year sentence Rachuy received this year in a Minnesota state court involving one of the worthless checks Rachuy wrote in a vehicle purchase, said Sinnott.
The amount of restitution Rachuy would pay will be determined at his Feb. 3 sentencing before District Judge William Conley.
The plea agreement limits the amount of loss to the checks returned on the four bank accounts involved in the vehicle purchases. The government will not consider relevant to the stolen vehicle case, any possible violations relating to the sale of logs by Rachuy’s company Midwest Timber and Logging, Inc.
Douglas County prosecutors apparently believed Rachuy was involved in a $164,550 loss to clients of Midwest Timber and Logging, Inc. in a “show and steal” scheme in which Rachuy allegedly took money from clients but failed to deliver lumber products, according to documents filed in Douglas County Circuit Court.
In February 2007, local authorities seized logs and lumber products stored at a John Ave. warehouse, Rachuy leased. Rachuy was never charged in connection with the seizure nor did any customer bring legal action against Rachuy. Rachuy petitioned for release of the lumber and in a 2009 order Douglas County Judge Michael Lucci wrote that he wasn’t convinced the seized lumber was contraband and ordered it released.
Sinnott declined to confirm or deny if there was any other ongoing investigation of Rachuy.
Rachuy is currently in custody. His attorney Joseph Sommers declined to discuss with case when called by a reporter.
Rachuy continued to plead not guilty to the federal stolen vehicle charges filed in September 2010. He changed attorneys earlier this year, and pleaded guilty Nov. 8 with his trial scheduled for Nov. 14.