Man faces federal wire fraud charges over $800,000 taken from business

Man faces federal wire fraud charges over $800,000 taken from business

URBANA — A Mansfield man is scheduled to be tried in April on federal charges alleging he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Champaign business where he worked.

A release from Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson said Neal S. Freeman, 57, appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bernthal to answer to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in January.

The 34-count indictment charges Freeman with 28 counts of wire fraud alleging that between August 2003 and January 2011, while employed as an accountant at Champaign Builders Supply, 30 E. John St., C, he defrauded the firm out of more than $800,000, which he spent on home improvements, vehicles and investments.

He is also charged with six counts of filing a false tax return, alleging he under-reported his income.

The indictment said Freeman had worked for the company since 1979. Since 2004, he had the authority to write checks for up to $5,000. It's alleged that between 2003 and 2011, he wrote more than 286 checks to himself in excess of his annual salary of $55,000 which he deposited into his own bank account.

The government is seeking the return of the $800,000 as well as forfeiture of two properties in Mansfield, the contents of an investment fund in his name, a 2004 GMC Envoy, a 2006 GMC Sierra Pickup, a 1995 Ford motor home, a Bobcat, and any money in his Busey Bank account.

If convicted, Freeman faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 on the wire fraud counts, and three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines for the tax violation.

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