COLUMBIA— The former CEO of Mamtek committed fraud to secure almost $1.3 million from bond funds that were supposed to be used to build an artificial sweetener plant in a central Missouri town, a federal judge ruled in a bankruptcy case.
In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey rejected all appeals raised by Bruce Cole and his wife, Nanette, and ordered them to repay $904,167 that had been transferred to their personal accounts and $360,000 sent overseas to creditors, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
The Moberly Industrial Development Authority agreed in 2010 to issue $39 million in bonds to fund the building of the sweetener plant in Moberly, and Mamtek promised the plant would bring 600 jobs to the town. The state of Missouri also authorized up to $17.6 million in tax credits and other incentives for the plant.
But when the money became available, Mamtek submitted a $4.1 million invoice from "Ramwell Industries Inc.," a company that had provided no goods or services to Mamtek and that did not exist, Laughrey said. Bruce Cole helped to prepare that invoice, she said.
The money was distributed to creditors, including Mamtek officers, with $700,000 going to Nanette Cole's personal account shortly before the couple's Beverly Hills home was to be sold in foreclosure.
"A reasonable fact finder could only conclude that Mamtek intended to defraud when it submitted the Ramwell invoice to Moberly and then transferred $904,167 to the defendants," Laughrey wrote.
Mamtek defaulted on the debt in August 2011.
Bruce Cole is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 2 on five felony counts of theft and securities fraud.
The Tribune said Bruce Cole could not be reached for comment. After being charged in September 2012, Cole was released from Randolph County Jail and returned to the Los Angeles area. His address is sealed in court records and his mailing address is a post office box.