Missing man who allegedly embezzled nearly $600K from ECFiber operator found, charged



Published: 05-16-2023 5:53 AM

A Northfield man wanted for allegedly embezzling more than $500,000 from a nonprofit organization that was working to bring broadband to central Vermont has been charged and arrested after nearly a year on the run, according to court records.

An indictment against John Van Vught was unsealed Monday in federal court in Burlington charging him with three counts of wire fraud for the purposes of embezzlement, according to court records filed in the case.

The six-page indictment was unsealed Monday, court records show, as a result of his arrest in “SDGA.” Van Vught’s precise whereabouts were not immediately clear, though the acronym “SDGA” is used in the federal court system for the Southern District of Georgia. Van Vught has ties to Georgia, having allegedly bought property there with his ill-gotten gains, according to court records.

According to the indictment, from 2013 to about July 2022 Van Vught “willfully participated in a scheme and artifice to defraud ValleyNet, and to obtain approximately $560,000 from ValleyNet accounts by materially and false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”

ValleyNet was a nonprofit that operated ECFiber, which services more than two dozen communities in the east-central region of the state.

During the period in question, according to a November 2022 report in the Valley News, Van Vught worked as a contract accountant for the company. He had been reported missing by his family in July 2022 and hadn’t been seen since.