BR Wholesale Reopens; Ex-President Charged
BR Wholesale RV and Marine has operated in Marshall, Mich., for 23 years, but what the company is experiencing now might force it to close for good.
According to a report by WWMT TV, owners J.R. and Ruby Watts say the damage they uncovered “is beyond belief,” and they say it’s all caused by the man they trusted to run the company, former president James LeBelle.
“I think he just took advantage of the whole system, everybody in their job is given certain responsibilities, some people don’t honor those responsibilities,” says Marshall Police Lt. Scott McDonald.
For 15 months LeBelle had been running the business for the Watts while they moved into semi-retirement. McDonald says in that time LeBelle made 251 transactions unrelated to the business, taking close to $160,000, and made a wide range of personal purchases.
“Everything from furnishings for the home, to different trips for the suspects and his family, a little bit of everything. We also found some of the funds were used to help the suspect start up a small business,” said McDonald.
Investigators found he used company funds to pay his rent, pay a bankruptcy attorney and rent a vacation cottage. They also found he used the company’s Sam’s Club card to buy a TV, a Blu-ray player and food.
The Watts said they didn’t know what had been going on until they went into the business around Christmas time and thought they had been robbed. Inventory was gone and the 17 store employees had been laid off.
There is a warrant out for LeBelle for embezzlement and the penalty is up to 20 years in jail. Police think he may now be in the Massachusetts area.