An Illinois couple pleaded not guilty Tuesday of stealing nearly $1 million from the Quad-City Times, where one of them worked as a building maintenance supervisor.
Earl and Julie Beasley were arrested last month at their home in Taylor Ridge, Ill. They face 28 counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Earl Beasley, 51, worked at the Times from August 1989 until Jan. 19, 2007. He was fired after the newspaper reviewed several invoices submitted to the Times from two companies reportedly owned by Julie Beasley, 49.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford Cronk informed the Beasleys they could face up to 30 years each on the 28 counts of mail fraud and up to five years for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
They each pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Cronk told the court that the Beasleys are accused of using two shell companies to defraud the newspaper, but the indictment filed earlier this month includes only one of the companies, Protech Co. An investigation of the other company, R&E Enterprises, is continuing.
Defense attorney James Bryson Clements also raised concerns about a trial date because of the amount of evidence likely in the case.
“I fully expect then the possibility of a superseding indictment or additional charges,” Clements said. “I don’t see a trial date before late summer.”
Judge Thomas Shields set the trial date for May 21 but conceded it could be pushed back.
“Any motion to continue would be favorably received because of the conversation we’ve had today,” he said.
Both Beasleys have court-appointed lawyers.
The indictment alleges the couple billed the Times $921,546 through Protech for goods and services that were never received and ordered $14,000 in merchandise from Cabela’s, an outdoors equipment outfitter, on company credit cards.
An assistant U.S. attorney has said previously that losses to the company could be more than $1 million.