Franklin County business owner pleads not guilty in alleged Ponz - KMOV.com

Franklin County business owner pleads not guilty in alleged Ponzi scheme

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Steve Millner pleaded not guilty to 10-count indictment of fraud charges Tuesday. (Credit: KMOV) Steve Millner pleaded not guilty to 10-count indictment of fraud charges Tuesday. (Credit: KMOV)
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A Franklin County business owner was in federal court Tuesday, accused of running a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.

News 4 has been tracking the story since August 2015. But for the first time, the former employee that turned him in to the FBI is speaking out.

Stuart Millner, 76,  is accused of skimming off millions of dollars from his clients and then blaming his employees for taking it. Millner owned the company Stuart Millner and Associates.

Millner pleaded "not guilty" in court, while Veronica Cannon, the former chief financial officer for the company, spoke against him.

Cannon says she left after nine months when she realized Millner was running an illegal scheme. The FBI raided the company offices in Union, Mo. in August 2015.

"When I came on board the money that was to go to previous clients was already spent, so he needed to get other people's money in order to pay other clients who were waiting on the money that should have already been paid," Cannon said.

The business auctioned off manufacturing machinery for major corporations. Court documents claim on one occasion, Millner sold equipment for over $1 million, gave the client just $250,000 and deposited $650,000 in his own account.

In court Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to a 10-count indictment of fraud charges.

"I haven't seen any evidence that indicates my client committed any criminal offense,” James Martin, Millner’s defense attorney, said. “We think there's a significant misunderstanding of the facts and we have every intention of proving his innocence."

When companies called to ask where their money was, Millner allegedly put the blame on employees.

"And he always looked for scapegoats to use blame on," Cannon said.

Authorities are also seeking forfeiture on three warehouses and a $1.5 million home in Union that they say Millner bought with money he got by defrauding clients. Cannon said defrauding clients was a way of life for Millner.

"We look at some of the things that have come to light over the last few years and that's the way people are made, whether it's Bernie Madoff or Stuart Millner," Cannon said.

No trial date has been set yet.

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