Two men at the helm of Salem's largest employer when it collapsed into bankruptcy now face criminal charges.

Randy Bauer, 52, of Appleton, Wis., and Jason Ollerich, 37, of Sioux Falls, each are charged with four counts of theft by deception, Attorney General Marty Jackley said. The men are accused of taking advance payments for grain augers they never intended to make.

Bauer was president and Ollerich vice president of Feterl Manufacturing Corp., a business with a 50-year history in Salem that once employed almost 150 people in the southeast South Dakota town of 1,300 people. They are due in court July 19.

Ollerich does not have a listed telephone number in Sioux Falls. Bauer did not immediately return a telephone call to The Associated Press on Wednesday seeking comment.

The plant closed in October 2008 and later filed for bankruptcy. Canada-based Buhler Industries Inc. bought Feterl's assets in February and reopened the plant.

There are 26 employees working on Buhler Industries' first batch of 60 augers, operations manager Jeff Hatch said. All but four of them had worked for Feterl. The plant hopes to double its employment by the end of next year, he said.

Information from: Argus Leader,