The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 20, 2013

Iowa businessman pleads guilty to federal counts

DAVENPORT (AP) — A Davenport commercial real estate agent has pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering for his role in stealing more than $1 million from his clients.

Charles Arthur Ruhl Jr., 59, entered the guilty pleas on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt in Des Moines said in a news release. In exchange for his pleas, prosecutors agreed to recommend Ruhl be sentenced to no more than two years in federal prison.

Within his real estate business, Ruhl owned and operated Ruhl Management Services, which oversaw the operations of several businesses, including the payment of property taxes and documenting cash flow and tax escrow balances.

Prosecutors say Ruhl illegally withdrew funds from those accounts of the businesses he managed and used them for personal expenses. That personal use included paying for his daughter’s college tuition. Prosecutors also detailed Ruhl’s scheme to cover up his theft of $47,000 from the escrow account of one business to pay taxes on his personal vacation home in Michigan.

Ruhl directed his employees to doctor financial statements and other documents to cover up his crimes, prosecutors said.

In all, Ruhl stole $1.3 million from clients’ accounts over from the end of 2008 through early 2012, Klinefeldt said.

A sentencing date for Ruhl has not been set.

A woman who answered the phone at Ruhl’s Davenport business directed questions to Ruhl’s attorney, Leon Spies.

Spies said Thursday that Ruhl did not want to comment on the charges, but confirmed that Ruhl had repaid the money taken from his clients, plus interest.

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