Jerry Ruzicka

Jerry Ruzicka

According to an article by Dee Depass in the December 11 Minneapolis Star Tribune, sentencing for former Starkey President Jerry Ruzicka and former Sonion VP of Sales Jeff Taylor is scheduled for next Wednesday, December 19, with prosecutors recommending 15 to 20 years in prison for Ruzicka and 7 to 9 years for Taylor. Both were convicted in March 2018 for their roles in defrauding Starkey Laboratories of more than $20 million in a complicated and multi-faceted scheme. Sentencing for former Starkey CFO Scott Nelson and Jeff Longtain, the former president of Starkey subsidiary Northland Hearing Centers based in Clackamas, Ore, will be held a day later on December 20.

Ruzicka was found guilty of 8 out of the 25 counts against him, including tax fraud, stealing a company car, and wire and mail fraud. Taylor was found guilty of 3 out of the 16 counts against him, including mail fraud and wire fraud. Nelson pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy in a plea agreement with the US attorney’s office, and Longtain was found guilty of tax evasion in connection with the transfer of Northland restricted stock worth $15 million.

Ruzicka’s lawyers have asked for probation or home confinement, and have filed several requests for a new trial, claiming there is new evidence and that Ruzicka’s actions were known by and beneficial to Starkey Founder and CEO Bill Austin. Austin denies this, saying he and the company were victims of fraud. The US Attorney’s Office has denied requests for a new trial, and plans to release a point-by-point response to Ruzicka’s latest allegations this week. The court has also asked to approve the forfeiture of more than $2.7 million from Ruzicka’s investments which have already been seized.

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