Bruce Cole

A former top official of a failed sweetener facility has returned to Missouri to face fraud and stealing charges. Bruce Cole, the ex-CEO of Mamtek U.S. Inc., is accused of using some of the money from a $39 million bond, which was intended for a planned factory in Moberly, to avoid foreclosure on his Beverly Hills home. He has been charged with one felony count of stealing and four counts of securities fraud. A federal bankruptcy proceeding and a civil lawsuit on securities fraud are also pending.

Mamtek’s project in Randolph County was funded primarily by municipal bonds issued by the Industrial Development Authority of the City of Moberly. The Chinese company had claimed it would bring more than 600 jobs to the Moberly area. Construction on the plant stopped after Mamtek missed a $3.2 million interest and principal payment in August 2011. The Federal Securities and Exchange Commission and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster then launched separate investigations.

Cole was assigned public defender, Raymond Legg, in his initial court appearance on Monday. Associate Circuit Judge Mason Gebhardt denied Cole’s request to reduce his $500,000 bond. A bond hearing was tentatively set for Dec. 5 and a preliminary hearing for Jan. 17-18. Cole is being held at the Huntsville Justice Center. If convicted, Cole could be ordered to serve 55 years in prison and pay a fine of up to $4 million.

Heritage Global Partners will attempt to sell the Mamtek plant as a unit on Wednesday. In addition, the land, equipment and “intellectual property” will be offered on a piece-by-piece basis. The auction has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Best Western Motel on Highway 24.