Rutland Plywood retirement fund embezzled, says federal grand jury
Rutland, Vt. - Rutland Plywood Corporation's pension, fund may have been embezzled. Earlier this month, a federal grand jury in Rutland, Vermont returned a three-count indictment against Neiman Groce, accusing him of raising $88,000 from the 401K. He pleaded not guilty at a hearing last week, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont reported.  
Groce, 30, was charged December 2, 2015, after a federal grand jury in Rutland returned a three-count indictment against Groce for embezzlement, wire fraud and forgery.


Rutland Plywood plant destroyed by fire

In Rutland, Vt., the Rutland Plywood plant was destroyed by fire. It's future hasn't been determined.

From 2008 and late 2012, Groce was employed by Rutland Plywood, a manufacturer of veneer laminates used in gun stocks and knife handles, among other items. After being promoted to Human Resources Director, Croce 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.
Rutland Plywood manufactures the veneer laminates in the handles of the knives seen above.
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 The forged forms contained directions that the money withdrawn from the employees' accounts be electronically transferred to one of two bank accounts that Groce controlled.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 were 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.
If convicted, Groce faces up to 20 years in prison 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.
Recent times haven't been kind to Rutland. The company downsized several times during the housing crash, and saw its entire plant burn to the ground from a fire in 2014. Most of its employees have taken jobs in other locations, and the company has not announced plans to reopen. Its veneer laminate materials such as Dymondwood, remain popular with manufacturers of gun stocks and knife handles.



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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.