Rogers County Man Lied Under Oath About Wife’s Death, Police Say
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - A Rogers County man faces a perjury charge after police said he lied under oath about his wife being dead when she is very much alive.
The suspect's former boss said he was told the same lie, which led to loans that never got paid back.
Larry Banzet said he hired Lee Heiligenthal in 2015, and, a few months later, Heiligenthal said he and his wife had been in a wreck. Then, a short time later, he said his wife died from a medication mix-up at the hospital.
"He's crying so hard, he can hardly walk across the street. He sat here and was a broken man. It broke me. It seemed so realistic," Banzet said.
Banzet said Heiligenthal asked for a $1,500 loan to get his wife's body back to New Mexico. Banzet said Heiligenthal signed paperwork promising to pay it back.
Banzet said Heiligenthal then said he was being evicted, so Banzet helped him find a new place.
"I paid his first month's rent and deposit of $1,400," he said.
Banzet said that's when he learned Heiligenthal’s wife was not dead at all.
He said he fired Heiligenthal and filed a small claims suit against him for the money owed.
Heiligenthal countersued, but records show he didn't show up so his lawsuit was dismissed.
Then, Heiligenthal filed a protective order against Banzet.
"Says I've gone by his house 15-20 times, brandishing a gun," Banzet said.
Records show Banzet presented video to prove he wasn't at Heiligenthal’s house that day so the judge dismissed the protective order.
Records also show Heiligenthal has a criminal history in New Mexico, mostly fraud related.
We reached out to Heiligenthal and he told us he wouldn’t comment on the perjury charge or about his wife.
He did, however, say there was more to the story and that it started because he warned Banzet that his daughter was asking for pills.
Heiligenthal said Banzet kept his tools for months, making it impossible for him to get to work.
He also said Banzet is the one slandering and not the other way around.
Finally, Heiligenthal said his convictions in New Mexico were a mistake in his life, and that now he is trying to be the best person he can.
Banzet said he was hoping fraud charges would be filed, but he's being told, for now, it's a civil matter.