A Le Sueur salesman is accused of swindling his clients out of more than $300,000 worth of plows and other tiling equipment.
Kevin Ray Hewitt, age 60, of Montgomery, has been charged with eleven counts of theft by swindle and one count of theft by check. Hewitt is a salesman for DBA Hewitt Drainage Equipment, located in rural Le Sueur.
Police spoke with several people in the area who said they ordered Soil Max Company tiling equipment through Hewitt, but never received their purchases. Others reported giving their equipment to Hewitt for him to sell on consignment, but they never received their money back.
One area farmer told police that he ordered a Soil Max tile plow and accessories from Hewitt, totaling nearly $50,000 in June 2019. Hewitt allegedly promised it would be delivered in four to six weeks, but in the coming weeks and months, no plow ever came. The customer said he contacted Hewitt numerous times, and Hewitt promised that the equipment would be on its way after being manufactured. It wasn’t until January 2020, six months after the purchase, that the farmer said he was able to get in contact with Hewitt and request his money back.
One to two weeks later, Hewitt reportedly wrote out a check from his personal checking account to the customer, but when he went to the bank, the check was denied. The customer was told that Hewitt’s personal account didn’t have the funds to cover the check.
Many more clients had similar reported stories from working with Hewitt. One man told police that he made a $35,000 down payment on $70,600 worth of Soil Max equipment he ordered from Hewitt. Hewitt reportedly told him that the delivery would take four weeks, and when the customer called for updates, he was told that Soil Max was behind the production. Another client was told the same when he traded in a used tile spade and $22,000 to Hewitt in exchange for a new one. He said he tried to contact Hewitt several times, eventually confronting him in person. In response, Hewitt allegedly said that he had a truck load of tile plows waiting to be delivered.
But when police contacted Soil Max, they were reportedly told that Hewitt had allegedly swindled the company as well. The general manager told police that Hewitt ordered three tiling plows and accessories worth $70,300, which he sold to customers, but he never paid Soil Max back for the equipment.
Police determined through investigations into Hewitt’s accounts that several of the payments he received were deposited into his personal checking or farm accounts and were used to pay off his debts, rather than purchase the equipment he promised to clients.
Several people that gave equipment to Hewitt to be sold on consignment reported similar troubles. One man told police that he made a deal for Hewitt to sell his used Soil Max plow for between $28,000-$30,000. Police later determined that Hewitt sold the plow for $38,000, but when the client called for updates, Hewitt reportedly said that he was having trouble selling it and no one was interested in purchasing it. Hewitt reportedly kept all of the money from the sale.
A manager of a business in Hartland, Minnesota also told police that Hewitt failed to follow up on a consignment agreement. Hewitt reportedly told the manager that he could sell their 2017 Soil Max plow and replace it with a 2019 plow of the same make and model. But months later, the manager said he received no word from Hewitt and his attempts to contact Hewitt were unsuccessful. At one point, Hewitt reportedly answered the phone and told him the plow was ordered, but when the manager spoke with Soil Max, he was told that they were not accepting orders from Hewitt.
Police eventually made telephone contact with a customer who said they ordered a 2019 plow from Hewitt. Through comparing serial numbers, police determined that the plow the customer purchased for $35,000 was actually the 2017 plow that Hewitt took from the Hartland business. None of the funds from the consignment sale were delivered back to the manager.
Hewitt is scheduled for an omnibus hearing in Le Sueur County District Court on Dec. 15.