The recent Grand Jury indictments handed down against the former president and CEO, David Ferguson, and his business partner and CFO who had been based out of Nebraska, Alan Donohue, of the now closed Stone Creek Homes in Plymouth comes as a relief to former employees. Many employees were left without jobs and lost back pay, local businesses were holding unpaid invoices, and at least one local investor who is named in the allegations against the pair. The plant closed just before Memorial Day in 2012.
On June 27, 2014, Marshall County Prosecutor, David Holmes, unsealed the indictments from a Grand Jury held in January and February. In a press release dated July 1, Holmes said, “In response to a desire to confer with authorities from other jurisdictions, and to follow additional investigative leads, the Prosecutor’s Office requested the indictments to be immediately sealed from public disclosure until further request.” Ferguson’s indictment alleges 14 felony counts, and Donohue’s, 11 felony counts.
Judy Reinhold, former human resource director for the company, was among those who testified before the Grand Jury.
Reinhold and then Plant Manager, Randy Weaver, were left with the task of informing the 41 plant employees that they were being put on lay-off status and to take all of their personal belongings and leave the facility. According to Reinhold, they got a call from Donohue and were instructed to notify employees.
Ferguson was not at the plant at the time. The day after the announcement to employees, all of his personal items and company computers were gone from the offices. Reinhold and others went to his leased home only to find the it cleaned out as well.
Reinhold said, “We didn’t know if it was a layoff or permanent. No one was answering their phones. Dave’s (Ferguson) cell would go straight to voicemail as well as Al’s (Donohue) cell so there was no one giving us a straight answer.” She said, “We gave employees our personal cell phone numbers and told them how sorry we were for this happening prior to the holiday weekend.”
Reinhold said, “That was the hardest thing to tell anyone. How do you go out and tell your employees that they need to leave the building and we are not sure if they will be paid or not?” “How do you look people in the eyes and try to tell them it will be okay, when you yourself aren’t sure it will?”
She added, “These people were like my family. I grew a bond with them. I knew their children’s names and I knew they relied on this company to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads at night.”
Sadly, the employees left without jobs were among the most desperate for work. Reinhold herself had been without a job for nearly a year before landing the position. She said, “Everyone who worked for Stone Creek Homes had been without work for some time. She pointed to what she believed was Ferguson’s theory. She said, “Dave (Ferguson) always said to give a 2nd chance and it didn’t matter if they had a good attitude/team player mentality, we give them a chance to work.” Reinhold said it was a blow to those who believed in him.
Reinhold insists there were little or signs that the business dealings were not right before Ferguson left town. She said, “It did bother me that people would think that I might have known what was taking place; but I can honestly say that it never crossed my mind that he (Ferguson) would ever do a thing like this.” She said, “There were times I would go to a local business and the credit card didn’t work; but Dave would call Al and money would be transferred.” “I was thrown for a loop when we got the call to halt production and get everyone out.”
At the time of the closing, plans were in the works for a grand opening of a second plant in Etna Green. Reinhold said, “I was excited to be a part of a company that was growing and going to give people jobs in a small town that need the economic growth.” “I am still shocked that they could get everyone’s hopes up and just walk away like a coward.”
Reinhold relocated several hours away from the Plymouth area and after nine months, was able to find employment. She said, “I have a great support team. So starting over wasn’t anything I hadn’t done before.” “I thank God that he gave me a wonderful man (fiancé Steve Colen) that has stood my my side throughout this whole thing and family and friends.”
Both Ferguson and Donohue appeared before Superior Court I Judge Robert Bowen and not guilty pleas were entered on their behalf. A pre-trial conference is scheduled on the matter on August 7, 2014 and a change of plea date has been set for November 18, 2014.
Allegations in the indictments against Ferguson and Donohue spell out thefts against Jeff Jones, Todd Morse, Judith Reinhold, Randy Weaver and Dan Flynn. The Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office has indicated that they are willing to receive information from other individuals or businesses that may have information stemming from dealings with Stone Creek Homes.
Carol Anders Correspondent