The husband of Plastic Products Co. Inc. owner Marlene Messin has been charged with theft for submitting false expense reports totaling $68,437 over the past eight years at the Minnesota-based custom injection molder.
Frank Erwin Messin, 78, of St. Paul, Minn., pleaded innocent to two charges of theft by swindle when he appeared in district court March 22, according to a spokeswoman from the Chisago County prosecutor's office. His lawyer, William Mauzy of Minneapolis, did not return a telephone call for this story.
Many of the expense claims were golf-related.
Plastic Products, based in Lindstrom, Minn., employs 700 at eight plants. According to Plastics News' most recent ranking, the company is the 51st largest injection molder in North America, with $106.1 million in sales for 2009.
According to the complaint, an officer from the Lakes Area Police Department was dispatched to Plastic Products in July 2010 to investigate an alleged employee theft. There, treasurer Lori Bjork said that Frank Messin, the executive vice president, had submitted a handwritten claim for expenses of $12,474, with the notation golf weekend. Bjork said there were a few receipts attached, but that only about $700 of the claim was legitimate.
When company President Marlene Messin confronted her husband, he said it was a mistake and he had added wrong, the complaint said. Frank Messin later told a police investigator that someone had altered the claim, but the company got a handwriting analysis that tied the entire claim to back to him, according to the complaint.
When I confronted him with it, that's when he quit. And I haven't spoken to him since. He filed for divorce the next day, Marlene Messin said in an April 4 telephone interview. The divorce is not yet final, she said.
I was appalled that he had done what he did. He did not need the money, said Marlene Messin, 75.
After getting the golf-weekend claim, Plastic Products performed an audit on his expense claims going back to 2003. They found $68,437 in questionable claims, the complaint said. That included a $1,500 tip for the firm that catered the company's annual picnic and $11,352 for sets of golf clubs given away as prizes, golf shirts, rounds of golf and expenses for entertaining clients.
Employees responsible for accounts payable at Plastic Products told investigators they felt they did not have the right to deny Messin's claims or question their legitimacy because he was the owner's husband. But Marlene Messin told police that his responsibilities covered shipping and transportation of products, and he had no duties involving entertaining clients.
Marlene Messin owned Plastic Products before she married Frank Erwin Messin, who is her third husband. A bookkeeper who worked one day a week, Messin began running the custom molder in 1975 after her first husband, Willard Smith, died of cancer.
Today, the business is 30 percent employee owned.