Client shares her experience with man charged with embezzlement

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 11, 2018

FERNDALE — After a Center Line man was charged with more than a dozen counts of embezzlement related to his Ferndale business, a White Lake woman shared her experience with the estate operation in an interview with C & G Newspapers.

Ronald Robling was arraigned on 14 counts of embezzlement and one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, according to the 43rd District Court, on May 29.

The 47-year-old Robling owns R and S Resale, through which he has been accused of not paying clients some of their proceeds from estate sales, and instead paying some of his own debts. It’s also alleged that he used money from clients to pay off other clients from earlier sales whom he had failed to pay, and that he pocketed more than $60,000.

In the years before Robling was charged, several of his clients voiced their displeasure with the business on Yelp, including Sarah Hayes, of White Lake.

“I was stunned to see he was charged, but I was glad, because after reading (about the charges against Robling), I really felt like, ‘Wow, I was lucky. I really dodged that bullet,’” she said.

Back in the fall of 2015, after Hayes’ father died, she hired R and S to conduct an estate sale. Hayes said she didn’t hear from Robling after the sale occurred, though he said he would contact her within a couple of days regarding how it went and what the proceeds were.

“Sometime in between my original contact with him and prior to the estate sale, he kind of dropped off the map,” she said.

After two weeks, Hayes said, she heard from Robling, who still had $3,400 from the estate sale, but he also offered to clean her father’s home for an additional fee of around $400 that would be paid from the sale funds, which she thought was a good idea at the time.

When Hayes and her boyfriend went to the home to see how the cleaning went, she found the house cleaned, but the garage was full of objects from the home, she said. Hayes said Robling told her that his staff was at the home working at the time, and the house was supposed to hit the market the next day.

“I literally had a meltdown in the driveway. I started crying. I couldn’t talk,” she said.

Hayes’ boyfriend was able to get hold of Robling and yelled at him to finish cleaning the garage by the next morning, which was done, Hayes said.

Once the sale and cleaning was done, all Hayes needed from Robling was the check from the estate sale and the key to her father’s home, which she said Robling told her was mailed through FedEx. After a week, Hayes said, she still hadn’t received a check, and every time she called the business, she was told that he wasn’t there.

Hayes managed to get hold of Robling, telling him to stop payment on the check and to send her a new one, which he did and she got the check and the key to her dad’s house, leading her to believe that he never sent the first check at all.

Hayes said her gut told her that the check wouldn’t be good, which she said would prove to be true. After another call to Robling and a couple of more attempts trying to deposit the check, it went through and Hayes could move on. She later wrote her Yelp review detailing the experience and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

“When you fill out the form online, you have the option to ask for, like, restitution or for funds to be repaid,” she said. “I chose not to do that because I literally wanted it to be done.”

After six months had passed, Hayes said she heard from Robling one more time, who emailed her to take her Yelp review down. She said that Robling offered to refund the cleaning fee if she removed the review.

“Resolving a customer service complaint is one thing, but he was literally like, ‘Four-hundred dollars to make that review go away,’” she said. Hayes refused to take the review down.

Hayes said she never considered going to the authorities about Robling’s business, as she assumed he ran his business poorly and just had a cash flow problem.

“I assumed good faith in the sense of thinking he’s probably not that great of a businessman and probably needs someone to help him with his cash flow,” she said. “It never occured to me that he was, like, stealing the money. I just assumed it was poor management on his part.”

Robling had his probable cause conference at the 43rd District Court June 7. His court-appointed attorney, Jeffrey Quas, requested more time from Judge Joseph Longo to review the materials from the Attorney General’s Office. 

During his preliminary exam on June 25, Robling’s case was bound over to the Oakland County Circuit Court. His next court date is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 24.

Quas could not be reached for comment by press time.

It was determined in court that five estate sales already scheduled to be held by R and S Resale could continue, but they were to be conducted by Robling’s wife and he was to not have anything to do with them. The sales and results of the estate sales also are to be recorded.