More than a year after being indicted on federal charges accusing him of defrauding the Montana appliance and electronics chain Vann’s Inc., the trial of former CEO George Leslie Manlove is scheduled to start Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Missoula.
In December 2015, prosecutors filed more than 200 federal charges against Manlove and Paul Lyn Nisbet, a fellow former executive of the now-defunct Vann’s, which closed in 2013 after declaring bankruptcy.
The charges against the men included allegations they created shell companies and had Vann’s lease property from them without board approval. Manlove also allegedly used company funds to pay for tuition, vacations and gifts for himself and family members.
In October, Nisbet — the former chief financial officer of Vann’s — pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy under an agreement with prosecutors. He was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Nisbet, 47, has been serving his prison sentence at a facility in Oregon, but was recently moved to the Missoula County jail as he is expected to testify in Manlove’s trial.
Manlove is also charged with three counts of tax fraud for allegedly misrepresenting income in his 2009-2011 income tax returns and not paying almost $50,000 in taxes. His trial has been delayed several times. In September, a federal judge rescheduled it from October to January after Manlove’s attorney requested another yearlong delay. Manlove has been free on supervised release pending the start of his trial.
Jury selection from a 31-person pool is set to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Dana Christensen. The judge has not set a number of days for the trial to last, only ordering that trial will not be held on Friday.
Founded as a single Missoula store in 1961, Vann’s Inc. grew to include include four retail locations across Montana, an online store and two sister companies, The ON Store in Southgate Mall and BigSkyCountry.com. A civil lawsuit filed against the two former executives was settled for $7.3 million in 2014.