Special to the News

FARIBAULT -- The Rice County Attorney's Office filed a criminal complaint Monday against a former Northfield man who authorities believe sold stolen construction equipment throughout the state.

Rick Donto DeMartini, 39, formerly of 9235 Dennison Blvd. in Northfield, has been charged with 36 criminal counts. DeMartini is accused of altering vehicle identification numbers on stolen construction equipment and trailers, and then selling them though his company, R&C Manufacturing. Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster contends that R&C Manufacturing was a fictitious company, allegedly used by DeMartini to create false vehicle identification numbers.

The Rice County Attorney's Office has charged DeMartini with three counts of racketeering; engaging in the business of concealing criminal proceeds; nine counts of possession of stolen property; and 22 counts of theft, including altering and removing serial numbers to prevent identification, among others. Maximum penalties range from 20 year prison stays and fines of $1 million for the racketeering charge to five year prison stays and $10,000 fines for each theft count.

Felony charges have also been filed against DeMartini, who now lives in St. Cloud, for the alleged theft of construction materials from a Menards store in Apple Valley last December. In a separate criminal compliant, DeMartini is also accused by the Dakota County Attorney's office of receiving stolen property. Other criminal complaints against DeMartini have also been filed in Goodhue and Scott counties, also for allegedly receiving stolen property.

The criminal complaint

According to the criminal complaint issued by the Rice County Attorney's Office, on Dec. 11, the store manager at an Apple Valley Menards reported than an individual known to him as Rick DeMartini may have stolen "a large amount" of construction materials from the store.

A police officer went to 9235 Dennison Blvd. in Northfield -- the address on file for DeMartini at the store -- where he saw a trailer loaded with lumber and other supplies that matched those stolen from the store. DeMartini provided a receipt for the goods, but police say it was from a Menards in Burnsville, and the description of materials and time of sale were incorrect. DeMartini was then arrested.

On Dec. 13, according to the criminal complaint, investigators from the Rice County Sheriff's Department and the Apple Valley Police Department executed a search warrant at 9235 Dennison Blvd. They reportedly found stolen construction material and equipment including a forklift, skid loader, and two semitrailers, among others.

Disputed VINs

Rice County Sheriff Investigator Mark Hlady found that two of the trailers found on DeMartini's property had vehicle identification numbers (VIN) that had been removed and replaced with new VIN stickers, according to the complaint. The new VIN sticker plates were traced to R&C Manufacturing of America.

"Investigators confirmed that R&C Manufacturing was a fictitious company used by DeMartini to create false VIN numbers," said the complaint. "...Officers spoke with Mr. DeMartini's ex-wife, who, in the course of their conversations, produced blank VIN stickers from R&C Manufacturing matching those VIN stickers which were found on the stolen property in Rice County."

Hlady also located a reportedly stolen Bobcat in Dennison, in the possession of a man who told Hlady he had purchased the Bobcat from DeMartini. Through that buyer, Hlady learned of six other trailers allegedly sold by DeMartini in the Faribault area, finding that three of the six trailers were reportedly stolen. The three trailers that could not be confirmed as stolen had no VINs at all, said the complaint.

Hlady also located a New Holland skid loader reportedly stolen out of Plymouth, and valued at $20,000. The skid loader was sold to a Faribault man on July 28, 2002 for $9,000, paid by a check allegedly cashed by DeMartini.