Trial Underway For 4 Executives Accused of Fraud Against Starkey Laboratories

January 17, 2018 11:20 PM

Four men are standing trial in federal court in Minneapolis after being charged with conspiring to steal more than $20 million from Eden-Prairie-based Starkey Laboratories Inc. and it's principal owner.

The defendants - Jerome Ruzicka, Larry Miller, Jeffrey Taylor and Lawrence Hagen - are all facing criminal charges.

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RELATED: Former Starkey Executive Pleads Guilty to 1 Count of Conspiracy

Federal prosecutors began by laying the foundation for a case they describe as a "massive and long-running" fraud scheme, aimed at embezzling from the hearing aid manufacturer.

Prosecutors argued that Ruzicka, the former president of Starkey Laboratories, abused his power to steal from the company and its employees.

RELATED: New Indictment Reduces Number of Charges For Some Accused of Stealing From Starkey

Ruzicka's attorney argued back during opening statements, saying that his client did not commit fraud, but helped save the company from bankruptcy.

After opening statements from the other three defendants' lawyers, the state called two Starkey Laboratories' employees to testify. Both explained they had conversations about Ruzicka leaving the company in the summer of 2015.

RELATED: 5 Executives Indicted, Accused of $20 Million Fraud Against Starkey Laboratories

Ruzicka was fired in September of that year, according to the company.

Prosecutors are expected to call former chief financial officer Scott Nelson during the trial. Nelson was indicted on similar charges with the four defendants in 2017, but last month plead guilty to one count of conspiracy in U.S. District Court.

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Kirsten Swanson

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