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Fuel salesman sentenced to prison for stealing

A St. Croix County businessman found guilty of regularly stealing from his fuel oil customers was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison followed by 12 years of other supervision.

John P. Rassbach, 54, Glenwood City, the former owner of Rassbach Oil Company, was found guilty in April of five felony and nine misdemeanor counts of theft by false representation.

Prosecutors claimed Rassbach shorted farm customers by pumping some of the delivered fuel back into his truck, by using false delivery invoices and by presenting copies of the delivery ticket for one delivery to more than one customer.

Saying the stealing was calculated and intentional, Judge Edward Vlack sentenced Rassbach to one year in prison and two years and six months extended supervision on each of four felony counts. The sentences are to run consecutively.

Rassbach was also was sentenced to two extra years of probation for nine misdemeanor convictions. He was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of extended supervision on a fifth felony conviction but will serve that term only if he violates probation.

Judge Vlack ordered Rassbach to make minimum monthly payments of $500 toward restitution, to participate in a restorative justice program if a victim wants that and to participate in a victim empathy seminar. He is to have no self-employment or own or manage any business without permission from his probation agent.

Several former customers also filed civil cases against Rassbach, claiming he shortchanged them on their deliveries. As a result of two of those cases, Rassbach currently owes a total of nearly $222,000 to customers in Baldwin, Glenwood City, Woodville, Emerald and Menomonie.

In February St. Croix County Judge Eric Lundell ordered Rassbach to pay $7,077 to Timothy and Matthew Bazille; $2,450 to Bradley Dorwin; $45,000 to Double A Dairy and Black Hawk Nutrients; $6,557 to Timothy and Dennis Omann; $28,250 to Lee Seim; and $9,625 to Nadeau Holsteins. Last October, Rassbach was ordered to pay $46,175 to Beskar Farms.

It's not clear how long Rassbach had been stealing from customers. He was convicted of crimes that occurred between 2005 and 2008.

Assistant Wisconsin Attorney General David Wambach who prosecuted the St. Croix County criminal case. A related case is still pending in St. Croix County and a civil case is pending in Dunn County.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.