A former Rice Lake businessman who is scheduled to go on trial next month in connection with two charges of felony theft by contractor was named in a Tuesday, June 1, 2021, complaint that adds an additional 17 counts of felony theft, as well as seven other counts of check and financial fraud, according to Barron County Circuit Court documents.
The 30-page complaint alleges that defendant Christopher D. Holman, 34, now of Altoona, failed to pay an Indiana company for manufactured homes, resulting in more than $800,000 in losses for the company. The complaint also alleges the defendant defrauded 17 A-1 customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in down payments and/or payments for utility work and installation.
The complaint was filed after a joint investigation by the Barron County Sheriff’s Department, the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
Court records said Holman was arraigned on the 2020 charge in January, and that a final pre-trial conference was set for June 18, 2021.
The new complaint sets an initial appearance two days before that conference, on June 16, 2021.
The investigation began in May 2020 when the Barron County Sheriff’s Department was notified that several A-1 customers had made payments to the business -- in some cases for tens of thousands of dollars -- but that A-1 Homes suddenly closed without return of their money.
Dating back to the 1970s, A-1 Homes was founded by Douglas and Gloria Holman, the complaint said. After Douglas’ death in 2001, the defendant (his son) managed the business, even though Gloria Holman was listed as the registered agent/owner.
details alleged fraud
The 2020 charges stem from an incident in mid-May 2020, when an office employee with A-1 Homes arrived for work to find representatives of Commodore Corporation, a Goshen, Ind., home manufacturer, disassembling model homes on the A-1 property.
According to the complaint, a Commodore representative told the A-1 employee that his company was taking possession of the models because A-1 hadn’t paid for them. The office employee told investigators that she texted the defendant to let him know what was happening.
She allegedly received a reply to the effect that “It’s over and we are going to call a lawyer and file bankruptcy.”
The 2020 complaint detailed a transaction between A-1 and one of its customers, who had paid more than $65,000 for a home that was never delivered.
In an August 2020 interview, two representatives from Commodore Corporation told investigators that on or about the time that the victim had written their checks to A-1, the defendant had already written several checks to Commodore that were later returned for insufficient funds.
A later investigation showed that there were more than $420,000 in withdrawals or attempted withdrawals from the same account that held the victim’s two checks.
Records from that bank account showed that none of the money from the victim’s checks was paid to the home manufacturer.
Records also show that in March 2020, the same month that the victim wrote their checks, A-1’s company bank account was drained of nearly $63,500.
2021 complaint lists
dozens of charges
According to the June 1 complaint, an agent for the Department of Criminal Investigation conducted another interview with the office manager, who said that if someone asked her for payments, she would get permission from the defendant to write checks, but that she didn’t have access to either the A-1 business accounting program nor its financial documents, accounts and related information.
Commodore representatives said that four homes were disassembled on the A-1 site and were later re-sold at a discount. After deducting the sale prices, Commodore estimated it lost more than $827,000 for homes it delivered to A-1, but was never paid for (not including interest and fees).
The final 21 pages of the complaint detail alleged losses incurred by 17 A-1 customers. In all cases, the victims had made down payments for manufactured homes, and/or payments for home installations and related expenses, but never got what they paid for, nor had they received any refunds.
The payments ranged from $10,000 to as much as $45,000. The investigation also showed that while the customers were waiting for goods and services that were never delivered, the defendant and his mother were allegedly receiving thousands of dollars in payments from the business.
The investigation also disclosed that the defendant and/or a second party had allegedly used credit cards to spend tens of thousands of dollars at restaurants and grocery stores, or on gambling and adult entertainment websites, while making minimal payments on the credit card debt.
A separate investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue disclosed the defendant allegedly used credit cards issued to the business, to make more than $120,000 personal purchases during the years 2017 through 2019.
The investigation also showed the defendant had allegedly underreported his income by well over $150,000 during the same three calendar years and had allegedly evaded nearly $11,000 in income taxes.