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EXCLUSIVE: 70 Year Old Business Owner Assaulted By Manager, Was Living In Fear For Months

<p>52 Year old Steve Ausmus, a multiple felon, and former manager of A-1 Office Furniture, was arrested today.&nbsp;He is accused of assaulting the 70 year old owner.</p>

MIDLAND -- 52 Year old Steve Ausmus, a multiple felon, and former manager of A-1 Office Furniture, was arrested today.  He is accused of assaulting the 70 year old owner.

The store owners say they've been living in fear of Ausmus for more than 18 months.  They said they felt like Ausmus was holding them hostage.

Harry Crawford and his wife own the store, and wanted to give Ausmus a second chance at a good life.

Ausmus told them he'd run the store if the bought it, and all they would have to do is collect a check every month.

But the owners say Ausmus was rude to customers, other employees, and ultimately to them.  He would threaten violence regularly, until he finally made good on his threats.

"He started in on me, I mean, calling me no good, and cussing me out, telling me if I got up from that chair he was going to knock me down.  And I got up.  And he lunged at me, threw me into the wall, and ripped my shirt off," said Crawford.
 
The owners also suspect Ausmus of embezzling money, but they couldn't get rid of him.  Crawford says Ausmus would threaten violence whenever he tried to fire him.

This went on for more than a year and a half.

"I'm 70 years old.  I mean, give me a break here," said Crawford.

Other employees of A-1 were scared of Ausmus too.

"He treated everyobdy like dirt.  I've seen him push these two older gentlemen around quite a few times.  And I woke up every day wondering if I was going to get fired today or that day.  I've seen him do crooked things," said one employee who wanted to remain unnamed.

The employees and owners say the threats and violence weren't limited to employees of A-1 either. 

"We had a lot of customers that he would just cuss at because they didn't do something the way he wanted.  Run him out.  Leave my store.  It's just uncanny how vicious he can be," said Bob Westbrook, who has taken over as manager of the furniture store.
 
For now the Crawfords say their 18 month nightmare is over.  But their quest for justice against the man they say stole thousands of dollars from them is just beginning.

They're looking forward to continuing their business and moving past Ausmus.  But the memory of the fear they lived with for months remains.

Ausmus has been charged with one count of assault of the elderly, a felony.  He was also charged with two counts of interfering with a 911 call, which is a misdemeanor.

Ausmus allegedly took the phone away from Harry Crawford when Crawford tried to call the police.

There have been no embezzlement, theft, or fraud charges leveled against Ausmus yet, but police told Big 2 News that those allegations are being investigated.

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