Rocky Mountain Trucking LLC

The former co-owner of an Iowa trucking company was sentenced Tuesday for his role in orchestrating an elaborate $250,000 check kiting scheme and is also facing unrelated charges in state court that he allowed more than 800 pigs to starve or freeze to death in his care in December 2021.

Nolan DeWall, 39, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, was sentenced to one year and a day in federal prison in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, seven months after pleading guilty to one count of bank fraud in June. He has been ordered to serve two years of supervised release once he finishes his prison sentence.

Chief U.S. District Judge Leonard T. Strand also ordered DeWall to repay over $217,000 he allegedly stole from his former business partners of Triple D Enterprises of Dike, Iowa. 

Prosecutors claim Triple D, the dump truck company he owned with his older brother, Ethan DeWall, and his friend, Dan Gates, for nearly 12 years, was forced to cease operations in 2018 after the check kiting scheme collapsed, leaving Triple D’s business account “with a negative $247,000 balance.”

Former trucking company co-owner Nolan DeWall, 39, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, was sentenced to one year and a day in federal prison for elaborate check kiting scheme. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

“As a result, the trucking company had to sell all its assets and went defunct,” according to the statement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa. 

Ethan DeWall was forced to file for personal bankruptcy after Nolan DeWall admitted to forging his brother’s signature on financial documents.

Gates was forced to repay the trucking company’s negative bank balance with personal funds and a loan, the statement said.

Prosecutors claim Nolan DeWall devised the check kiting scheme, which involved transferring funds between accounts from Triple D to Voorhies Grain Inc., headquartered in Black Hawk County, Iowa, where he worked as a manager and later a shareholder, to inflate the account balances of the grain elevator, which was financially struggling. 

Voorhies, a 55-year-old grain elevator company that stores, buys and sells grain and other farm-related products, is owned by Harold and Julie Sorensen. The owners put DeWall in charge of nearly all of the day-to-day decisions and operations of Voorhies and later made him a shareholder without notifying the other shareholders.

The Sorensens claim in court filings that they personally guaranteed two loans of $8.5 million by GNB Bank to keep the grain elevator business afloat. They also allege that DeWall prepared and presented false information used in “the preparation of false and fraudulent financial statements and financial documentation relied upon by the bank in approving financing for Voorhies, which was relied on by [the Sorensens] in personally guaranteeing the loans to the bank.” 

The Sorensens’ attorney, Kevin D. Ahrenholz, did not respond to FreightWaves’ request seeking comment.

DeWall’s attorney, Melanie Keiper, argued for leniency at his sentencing, stating he was remorseful and had already begun to make restitution to the victims of the check kiting scheme. Keiper said in court filings her client engaged in the scheme “not out of a sense of greed but rather to buy more time for the cooperative to pay its bills.”

Keiper did not respond to FreightWaves’ request seeking comment. 

Ethan DeWall, a victim of the check kiting scheme, also wrote a letter of leniency prior to his brother’s sentencing, stating that “he [Nolan DeWall] did not benefit from this crime and has only suffered from it.”

DeWall faces livestock neglect charges

In an unrelated case, Nolan DeWall is also facing livestock neglect charges in Iowa state court following his arrest in January 2022. Investigators claim he allowed more than 800 pigs to starve or freeze to death while in his care at his farm in Cedar Rapids.

According to court filings, DeWall was contracted to raise 2,500 pigs to a weight of approximately 280 pounds apiece, along with 15 tons of feed, in December 2021. The pigs arrived at his farm over a four-day period in late December 2021. 

On Dec. 30, 2021, a swine consultant went to DeWall’s farm to check on the pigs and claims to have found about 800 pigs dead at his Iowa farm.

The consultant noted in the court filings that the pigs had limited access to food or water and many either had frostbite on their ears or their ears had been completely frozen off. Court documents state that tissue samples were tested and no evidence of disease was found, leaving experts to determine the pigs had died from malnutrition and water deprivation. 

The remaining pigs were removed from the DeWall’s farm, where another 51 pigs died during transport and an additional 60 pigs died over the next few days, according to court filings.

DeWall faces an upcoming court appearance in February regarding his livestock neglect case.

No date has been set for DeWall to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. However, chief U.S. district judge Strand also ordered DeWall’s prison time for bank fraud run consecutively to any sentence that may be imposed in his livestock neglect case.

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