Man sentenced for misusing taxpayer loan

Gardner Klaasen. (Undated courtesy photo)

STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who misused money from a state loan intended to help create jobs has been ordered to make restitution to the City of Greenville.

Gardner Klaasen was sentenced Thursday to 12 months in jail with credit for two days served, three years probation and 100 hours of community service.

He must also pay various costs, including $155,000 in restitution. The jail sentence may be suspended if Klaasen fulfills assessments by the judge, which includes the restitution.

In 2010, Klaasen and David Valdisirri were given a loan funded through taxpayer money to start up a plant to build office chairs in Greenville. The City of Greenville backed the loan, which would have been forgiven if the plant had produced jobs.

But four years later, no chairs were being built. Greenville had to repay the state $310,000.

The money from the loan was supposed to be spent on machinery and equipment, but it wasn’t. It instead went to the men, records showed. They collected salaries even though the plant didn’t produce any product and charged tens of thousands of dollars to debit cards linked to the account. The money paid for expensive dinners at high-end restaurants, including establishments in Chicago and Las Vegas.

Valdisirri’s case is still working its way through the judicial system.

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