GRAND RAPIDS — Rusty Eichorn, who has dedicated his 42-year career to the family business, thinks he can retire when he turns 60 this year.
Instead, in recent years, he’s been forced to liquidate more than $500,000 in retirement savings and sell at least $200,000 worth of prized personal possessions — airport hangars, snowmobiles and gun collections — to pay his wages and keep his doors open Glen’s Army Navy Store, at the ’76 game in Grand Rapids.
Eichorn, well known in the community for his roles in business and politics, now drives around in a $2,500 car and expects to work for at least another five years before achieving a more modest retirement as his own sister implements launched a years-long embezzlement scheme.
“I still can’t understand how my own sister can look me in the eye and say she feels sorry for me when I hand the store a check for $50, $100, or even $150,000 to keep the store going. weeks, and she has been my highest paid hourly worker with full benefits,” Eichorn told the judge. “All the money she stole from me and my store was used to fuel her smoking, drinking and gambling habits at my expense.”
Lynda Chris Gillson, 65, pleaded innocent to Alford in October to felony burglary charges, but agreed to plead guilty under a plea with the Itasca County Attorney’s Office Agreement to repay $78,500 in damages to the family business.
Judge Korey Wahwassuck on Tuesday approved the settlement, which sentenced the Grand Rapids woman to five years of supervised probation. Gilson was granted a stay of execution, which would make the conviction a misdemeanor after successfully complying with all conditions.
Eichorn told the News Tribune he is relieved that the six-year saga is finally over, but he struggles to see justice in a case that “caused me unimaginable emotional, mental and financial toll.”
Gilson, who worked as the family business’s sole bookkeeper, was originally charged with nine felony counts and was charged with theft of $201,066 over three years. The alleged theft was first reported to the Grand Rapids Police Department in November 2018.
Eichorn provided authorities with three years of financial records showing numerous checks written for “change”, and authorities said Gillson appeared to have been withdrawing cash directly from deposit envelopes under the old commodities trading system.
According to a criminal complaint, a review of Gilson’s bank records found that she had deposited numerous checks in amounts that matched “change” amounts drawn at the store.
Police found that Gilson had at least 12 valid credit cards between 2016 and 2018, and that large payments during that period “approximately equaled or exceeded Gilson’s legal income during these years.”
She also “splurged big” at local casinos and took a trip to Las Vegas. At the White Oaks Casino in Deer River, her Players Club card showed she wagered $136,556 in 2017 alone, losing more than $10,500 by the end of the year.
“Because of the liquidity of cash that Gilson was responsible for handling Glenn’s money, and the fact that her expenses far exceeded her legitimate income, it is also believed that during this time, Gilson took more money that was not deposited with her bank. account, as reflected in the store’s losses,” the complaint states.
Gilson reportedly admitted to police that she had a gambling problem, but denied stealing money from Glenn, and that the missing deposit was actually a cash advance or convenience check because she was “struggling financially with a credit card.”
In pleading guilty for Alford, Gilson did not admit responsibility for the crime, but admitted there was enough evidence for a judge or jury to find her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Eichorn said the theft had a compounding negative impact on his business. Working capital of $200,000 should typically translate to about $350,000 in sales every four months, he said.
“After all the bills are paid, you make $10 or $20, and then you do it again,” he said. “That’s how we work. It’s like pulling the wheels out of under the wagon.”
Eichorn said he paid $300,000 in income taxes and penalties for withdrawing retirement funds, went two years without a salary and 401(k) investments, spent about $50,000 in employee resources to sort out the store’s finances, and had to pay back $25,000 Dollars for dishonest employee insurance claims.
“We’ve reemerged, and we’re bigger and stronger than ever,” Ashien said, adding that he has never missed a paycheck or resorted to layoffs. “But I think it’s a great hairstyle.”
Glen’s opened in 1946 and has been run by the Eichorn family since 1974. Current owner Rusty Eichorn also served as Itasca County Commissioner for 14 years and is the uncle of the State Senator. Justin Aiken.
Among other conditions, Gilson was prohibited from gambling or drinking alcohol or drugs while on probation. Her compensation will ultimately come from the estate of their 88-year-old mother, who Eichorn said is in good health in an assisted living and memory care facility.
“The sad thing about this deal is that it’s my sister,” he said. “I never thought she would do something like that. I thought there had to be another hole plugged somewhere, but no.”
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