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Former Starkey president Ruzicka to be sentenced today

December 19, 2018

A federal judge is scheduled to sentence former Starkey President Jerry Ruzicka Wednesday for his role in embezzling $20 million from the Eden Prairie-based Starkey Laboratories, the largest hearing aid manufacturer company in America.

Prosecutors are requesting that he be sent away for 15 to 20 years.

Wednesdays sentencing hearing brings to a close a case that has been three years in the making.

Ruzicka of Plymouth was convicted in March by a federal jury in Minneapolis on eight counts of wire, mail and tax fraud.

The charges involved theft of $15 million in restricted stock that belonged to Starkey owner Bill Austin; filing a false 2014 tax return, stealing his 2011 company Jaguar and using sham companies to collect millions of dollars in fake commissions and fees from Starkey and supplier Sonion.

Ruzickas friend and business associate, former Sonion U.S. president W. Jeff Taylor, was convicted in March on three fraud charges associated with the sham commissions and fees. Taylors sentencing hearing also is scheduled for Wednesday.

Prosecutors have asked that Taylor be sentenced to seven to nine years of prison.

The sentencing hearings of the two co-defendants who pleaded guilty former Starkey CFO Scott A. Nelson and former Northland Hearing subsidiary President Jeff Longtain are scheduled for Thursday morning and afternoon. Both Nelson and Longtain cooperated with federal prosecutors during the trial.

Ruzickas attorneys filed numerous motions asking the court to demand a new trial due to alleged misconduct on the part of the prosecution.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim denied several of those requests in September.

Last month, Ruzickas attorney, John Conard, filed one more request seeking a new trial based what he described as new evidence.

Friday, Tunheim denied Ruzickas request, writing that while the court agreed with Ruzicka that some of Bill Austins trial testimony was not credible, the court found that there was sufficient other evidence to support the [jurys guilty] verdict.

Tunheim added that Ruzicka has not shown that a new trial is warranted based on his newly discovered evidence.

Dee DePass 612-673-7725

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