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Restitution sought from Delavan man after bomb scare

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Kevin Hoffman
October 12, 2011
— A 64-year-old Delavan man accused of making a bomb threat to his employer is being asked by the company to repay thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits he received after he was fired.

Court Commissioner Thomas Meyer will consider whether Robert Vance should be forced to repay $8,640. The owners of Walworth-based Integra, a furniture manufacturer, asked the court to order the money repaid to their account with the state Department of Workforce Development.


Vance was fired after a police investigation showed he phoned a bomb threat to the company Aug. 9, 2010, according to the criminal complaint. A voicemail on the business’ answering machine said, “On Thursday, three bombs were placed in your facility and trailers, set to go off on Monday after 8 a.m. Good luck.”


Police officers and sheriff’s deputies searched the business but found no bombs.


Police said four people at Integra recognized the voice as Vance’s. A supervisor said Vance had been sent home two days earlier for breaking parts.


Vance is charged in criminal court with felony bomb scare. The case is pending.


Integra’s request for reimbursement was filed as a motion for restitution in the criminal case.


Vance received more than $22,000 in unemployment benefits, but the company wants him to reimburse it for its share, according to the motion.


Vance’s attorney, Dan Necci, argued Tuesday that the criminal court doesn’t have jurisdiction to order repayment after an administrative law judge and the state Labor and Industry Review Commission already approved the payments.


Vance claims he is innocent, and restitution only could be ordered if he is found guilty in the criminal case. Integra President Birdeen Putnam said the company would not seek restitution for any other costs resulting from the bomb scare.


“We asked for unemployment because unemployment has been an issue in the news,” she said, “and we just felt like of all the costs that were involved with this situation, this would be the one place that we would like to have something returned to the account.”


Assistant District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld agreed that unemployment benefits were properly paid, but he said the court should order Vance to repay the money if it finds his criminal actions put the company at a loss.


Necci countered that Integra would have had to pay the same amount to the state Department of Workforce Development regardless of Vance’s claim.


Meyer said he would take the matter under advisement, and it was not clear Tuesday when he might render a decision.


Vance faces a maximum penalty of three years and six months in prison and a $10,000 if convicted.



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