National Commander Daniel A. Bernath "stop embezzl
American Legion embezzlement in Wisconsin
Thu Oct 13, 2016 17:06
American Legion bar manager pleads guilty to theft from Water Street bar American Legion Post 53 on Water Street has been ordered to pay more than $8,000 in restitution in connection with embezzling as much as $15,000 from the tavern.
Dean L. Schmitz “almost single-handedly took away our ability to stay open,” American Legion Post 53 adjutant Brad Veness said Tuesday during Schmitz’s plea and sentencing hearing in Eau Claire County Court.
Schmitz “was a man of many excuses and little action,” Veness said. “His careless acts almost put an end to our organization.”
Schmitz, 58, 1043 Third Ave., pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor counts of theft.
As part of a three-year deferred agreement with prosecutors, the felony count will be dismissed if Schmitz pays $8,181 in restitution at a rate of $265 a month, have no contact with American Legion Post 53 and write a letter of apology to its members.
Eau Claire County assistant district attorney Peter Rindal said the negotiated restitution amount is lower than the amount taken because evidentiary issues could have made the higher amount more difficult to prove at a trial.
According to the criminal complaint:
A trustee for American Legion Post 53 contacted Eau Claire police in spring 2014 to report that Schmitz embezzled funds while employed as the bar manager from September 2012 to April 2013.
Schmitz also owned Rainbow Catering.
The trustee said it appeared Schmitz was using his catering business to steal from the tavern.
Post trustees discovered Schmitz failed to keep proper records.
Trustees voted in December 2012 to remove check-signing authority from Schmitz, but it later was discovered that Schmitz had one of the trustees pre-sign blocks of blank checks.
The first trustee believes Schmitz embezzled money by writing checks to himself and his catering business, using credit card transactions through a card reader he installed at the bar and taking money directly from the cash register.
Police determined that because of the lack of records for the period the first trustee said Schmitz embezzled money, an accurate estimate of the loss is unavailable, but police believe the total is at least $15,500.
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