A preliminary hearing has been set for March 7 for a mother and son charged with swindling more than $600,000 from the Minnesota-based freight brokerage where they both worked.
Vickie Greiner, 62, and her son, Brandon Greiner, 34, both of Fairmont, Minnesota, worked at Commodity Services Inc., which is headquartered in Fairmont but has a second office in Orlando, Florida.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Vickie Greiner worked as the office manager for Commodity Services for nearly four years, from March 2019 to December 2022. Her job duties included payroll and accounts payable and receivable. She was charged with one count of felony theft by swindle in Martin County Court on Feb. 17.
Brandon Greiner, who worked as a transportation specialist for Commodity Services, was charged with one count of felony aiding and abetting theft by swindle on the same date. According to LinkedIn, he started working at Commodity Services in September 2020.
The mother and son each face one count of felony theft.
Attorney Patrick Casey, who is representing Vickie Greiner, did not respond to FreightWaves’ request seeking comment.
Brandon Greiner’s attorney, Jacob M. Birkholz, said he is unable to “discuss any details of any facts at this time,” but provided FreightWaves with a statement.
“My client vehemently denies the allegations and desires to prove his innocence,” Birkholz’s statement said.
The charges filed against the Greiners stem from a two-month investigation by the Fairmont Police Department.
Investigators allege the scheme started to unravel after Vickie Greiner’s bank notified her boss, Terry Maakestad, owner and CEO of Commodity Services, about “unusual activity on [the truck brokerage’s] commercial business account” in mid-December.
According to the criminal complaint, Greiner’s bank, Profinium Inc., told Maakestad that it had located approximately $250,000 in automated clearing house (ACH) transactions in 2022 that were transferred from Commodity Services to the former office manager’s personal bank account that “appeared to have been hidden behind another account.”
Maakestad, who founded Commodity Services in 1980, allegedly told Fairmont police that when he confronted Vickie Greiner about the missing funds, she admitted to stealing money from the company. The criminal complaint states she returned $244,000 following a demand she received from Commodity Services’ attorney. It’s unclear whether she quit or was fired.
According to bank records, the suspicious wire transfers totaling nearly $350,000 allegedly started occurring in May 2019, two months after Vickie Greiner began working for Commodity Services, and continued until December 2022.
Fairmont police claim in the criminal complaint that it was discovered during the investigation that Vickie Greiner, who processed all of the transactions for Commodity Services, had created a “duplicate vendor account to electronically transfer funds from Commodity Services’ business account to the personal accounts of herself and Brandon.”
However, Maakestad stated that Vickie Greiner was a salaried employee of Commercial Services and only received paper checks, according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint states that Commodity Services told investigators that Brandon Greiner had allegedly received more than $268,000 in unauthorized ACH payments over a 14-month period — from August 2021 to October 2022.
During the course of the investigation, Fairmont police officers spoke with Brandon Greiner, who reportedly stated that he received a base salary from Commodity Services, plus a 40% commission on sales, which he claimed was paid via electronic transfers.
According to the criminal complaint, investigators reviewed all checks issued to Brandon Greiner, including his salary and sales commissions, and found that there was no indication that he received any compensation from Commodity Services through ACH deposits.
Investigators then obtained a search warrant to examine the bank accounts of both Vickie and Brandon Greiner. The review of their bank records allegedly corresponded with the documentation provided by Commodity Services. The complaint states that Brandon Greiner had transferred three payments totaling over $182,000 from his account to Vickie Greiner in 2022.
Casey, Vickie Greiner’s attorney, has filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing a lack of probable cause “for the arrest and charging of the defendant.”
According to the Minnesota secretary of state’s office, Brandon Greiner registered a new business, Ciro Transport LLC, on Jan. 7 in Fairmont. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, his company’s broker authority was granted on Jan. 30.
He recently posted this message on a freight broker forum on Facebook: “We have a few agents with multiple years of experience and we are looking to expand into a few more markets with experienced freight broker agents,” Greiner wrote. “A few of us specialize in the bulk side of trucking and one of us is in the van/reefer side. Looking to expand even more into the van/reefer side along with adding flatbed, LTL, sprinter, and other lanes.”
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