Skip to main content

Dark Horse Brewery’s Former Owner Pleads Guilty to Conducting a Criminal Enterprise

LANSING – Yesterday, Aaron Morse, 47, of Marshall, pled guilty in the 37th Circuit Court in Calhoun County to one count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, a 20-year felony, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Morse was the sole business agent of Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall before selling the business in 2020, and intentionally and illegally withheld employee retirement contributions and healthcare premiums for his own purposes. He was granted deferred sentencing pending successful completion of drug addiction programming to last no less than 18-months and payment of full restitution to the victim employees. 

“Payroll fraud and benefit contribution thefts often go undetected for years, and can cause significant financial harm to victim employees,” said Nessel. “And it’s indisputably stealing, from the very people powering your business. This plea agreement secures restitution to the working men and women Morse scammed out of thousands of dollars and benefits. I am grateful for the investigative efforts of the Marshall Police Department and the U.S. Department of Labor for uncovering these crimes.” 

Marshall Police investigated Morse for passing bad checks to his employees totaling $20,972.82, and the Department of Attorney General (DAG) charged him accordingly in September 2022. Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Labor revealed to DAG prosecutors their investigation into improper employee benefit withholdings, resulting in additional charges for failing to make retirement and health benefit contributions. 

Morse failed to remit more than $36,000 in retirement contributions, $29,000 in employer match retirement funds, and $24,000 in health insurance policy premiums, which eventually lead to more than $50,000 in unpaid health claims to employees. 36 employees participated in either the employer's retirement plan, health plan or both. Morse used the stolen funds to support his business.  

Morse was charged with five counts of Larceny by Conversion, five counts of Receiving and Concealing Stolen Property, five counts of Larceny by False Pretense, and one count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise. 

Following yesterday’s plea, Morse will be assessed a victim restitution sum for the retirement contributions and any health care costs incurred by employees as a result of failed health insurance claims caused by Morse. That restitution sum must be paid in full by the time Morse completes his court-ordered drug treatment programming, otherwise he will be sentenced on the 20-year felony to which he pled guilty. 

Morse previously pled guilty to one count of NSF Check more than $500, agreeing to pay $20,972.82 in restitution to employees affected by the bad checks investigated by Marshall Police.   


Media Contact: