Neiman Groce Pleads Not Guilty to Retirement Plan Embezzlement
The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Neiman Groce, 30, of Poultney, pleaded not guilty today in United States District Court in Burlington to federal fraud and forgery charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy released Groce on conditions pending trial, which has not been scheduled.
On December 2, 2015, a federal grand jury in Rutland returned a three-count indictment charging Groce with embezzlement, wire fraud and forgery. According to the indictment, between approximately 2008 and late 2012, Groce was employed by Rutland Plywood Corporation. In 2012, Groce was promoted to Human Resources Director and assumed responsibility for administering the company’s section 401(k) employee retirement plan. According to the indictment, between June and November 2012, Groce embezzled approximately $88,000 from the retirement accounts of five former Rutland Plywood employees. Groce allegedly accomplished the embezzlement by forging employees’ signatures on benefit plan withdrawal forms and faxing the forms to the company which managed the retirement plan. The forged forms contained directions that the money withdrawn from the employees’ accounts be electronically transferred to one of two bank accounts that Groce controlled. During that time, more than $75,000 in retirement plan funds was actually transferred into Groce’s accounts.
The indictment charges Groce with stealing an additional $3,000 from Rutland Plywood by forging and altering a series of company checks to third parties to make them payable to himself, then cashing those checks.
The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.
If convicted, Groce faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence would be determined with reference to federal sentencing guidelines.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Vermont State Police.
Groce is represented by the office of the Federal Public Defender. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.