Yesterday, Dale Warner, husband of Dee Ann Warner who has been missing for over a year and a half, faced criminal contempt of court charges in Lenawee County Probate Court. The hearing was a continuation of the ones held in April and June.
The five charges of contempt were all related to the sale of his missing wife's assets and diversion of funds from her estate. Dale also allegedly took out a small business loan months after Dee disappeared and used her signature on the application.
Dee's adult children reported her missing on April 25, 2021. The night before, she told friends and family she was going to tell Dale she wanted a divorce. The next morning, she was gone without a trace.
Last month, Dale and Mark Weisberg were taken into custody of Lenawee County Jail for eight days due to civil contempt of court for failing to turn over financial records to the Successor Conservator of Dee's estate. Mark Weisberg used to be an accountant until he was convicted of embezzlement. Now he is Dale's personal assistant.
Yesterday, Dee's son, Zack Bock, 31, testified he did the bookkeeping and invoicing for his mother's trucking business when he was in high school. After graduation, he began a career in real estate. In 2018, he went back to work for his mother. Dee had recently fired Mark Weisberg who had been doing the accounting. "They were in a mess," Zack said. "Several lawsuits were happening, and she just needed help."
When asked why Mark was fired, Zack said, "Because he was cooking the books."
According to Zack, Dale and Dee were at risk of losing all their assets. Dee's trucking business was thriving, but Dale's farming business was floundering. On a continual basis, money was taken out of Dee's trucking business to keep Dale's farming business afloat. "The farm was an anchor that was going to take the entire ship down," Zack said.
After Dee was reported missing, Zack continued working for about a month and a half. Dale's attorney, Lawrence Leib, questioned Zack about payroll checks made out to Dee after she disappeared. Zack explained that at the time, he didn't know where his mother was.
Leib said, "We still don't know where she is."
Zack replied, "No. I know where she is. She's dead." After a pause, he said, "I think your client would also agree with that statement."
Shortly after Dee disappeared, Dale rehired Mark Weisberg. Zack stopped coming to work. "It became uncomfortable," Zack said. "A lot of things that were being done was what I would call fraud. Sketchy."
As to Mark's return, Zack said, "He never should have been allowed back on that property." He also noted, "They almost got a divorce because of him."
Lawrence Leib called Todd Neyrinck to testify. Todd was the dispatcher for Dee's trucking company. When Todd walked in the courtroom, he glared at Dee's brother, Gregg Hardy, and said, "You got something to say?"
Todd was not on the stand long before The Honorable Catherine A. Sala reprimanded him for using foul language.
Todd began working for Dale and Dee in 2006. Todd recalled when Dee hired Mark Weisberg. "She didn't really do any background check on him. She hired him on the spot," Todd said.
Todd's job was to generate business and schedule loads for the 10 to 15 truck drivers. "Dale and Dee signed their checks, but they worked for me."
After Dee vanished, Dale changed the name of Dee's trucking business to a similar name and is accused of syphoning money from her business into the new one. When Dale sold the business to Laidlaw, a large trucking company, they hired Todd as a divisional manager, yet he still works out of the same office on Dale and Dee's property.
"All that's changed is I sit on the other side of the desk," Todd said. He also mentioned Laidlaw had bought him a nice new chair.
Todd's testimony was interrupted several times. When one of Dee's attorneys made an objection, Todd said, "Because it's the truth and you don't want to hear it?" When another attorney asked him to repeat a reply for clarification, Todd said, "What did I say? You're the genius." At one point he was asked to stop texting, then a few minutes later, he was asked again to put away his phone.
In closing arguments, John Polderman, attorney for the Successor Conservator who is responsible for protecting Dee's estate, asked Judge Sala to sentence Dale for 93 days and fine him $7,500. Polderman argued Dale repeatedly defied court orders. "It's constantly been a catch-me-if-you-can," Polderman said. "A half truth presented as the whole truth is an untruth."
Lawrence Leib maintained his client did "nothing illegal or unethical." Judge Sala is expected to give her ruling Wednesday, September 13, 2023.
After the hearing, Gregg Hardy, Dee's brother, gave me his reaction. "John Polderman did a phenomenal job of presenting the evidence in a convincing manner with good foundation. The defense was weak and disorganized. The closing arguments were extremely weak and extremely unfounded. Zack Bock was a very good witness. There was no question he knew what he was talking about. The Todd Neyrinck witness was an absolute joke. He's obviously a hearsay person. He doesn't know anything, but he thinks he knows everything."
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