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Columbus woman accused of stealing funds from parish, school

Published On: Dec 12 2012 03:54:16 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 12 2012 08:48:22 PM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

A Columbus woman is accused of using parish and school funds for various personal expenses.

Susan Droessler has been charged with one count of felony theft, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced Wednesday.

The case involves more than 40,000 documents, and because of its complexity, Columbus police turned it over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice for prosecution.

According to the criminal complaint, Droessler worked part-time for a period of time as a secretary and bookkeeper for St. Jerome Parish and School in Columbus.

In January of 2010, a trustee on the parish finance council discovered that for a period of time dating back to at least the beginning of 2007, large sums of money had been misappropriated from the church and school.

A subsequent investigation by the Columbus Police Department revealed that Droessler, who was able to write checks from the school and parish accounts, used parish and school funds to pay for various personal and family expenses, such as TVs, groceries and other items totaling more than $5,000 at Walmart, more than $17,000 for various credit card accounts in her name, and numerous other expenses for items and bills, according to the criminal complaint.

Droessler used some of the money to pay for housing for one of her children at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that Droessler enrolled herself in full-time health benefits through the parish, to which she was not entitled.

It is believed that the total amount of premiums paid by the parish from August 2004 through August 2010 for Droessler's family coverage, dental plan and vision insurance was in excess of $88,000, according to the complaint.

"She was a very well respected member of the church and the community and placed in a very high level of trust. As a result of this investigation, obviously, they have many more safeguards in place to prevent any sort of occurrence like this again," said Lt. Dennis Weiner, of the Columbus Police Department.

The complaint also alleges that Droessler failed to pay more than $266,000 in employee taxes to the IRS.

Parish officials confirmed that the defendant was not entitled to receive these benefits, nor was she entitled to use any of the school funds for personal use, according to the complaint.

The charge of felony theft in this case is a class G felony, punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.

An initial appearance has been scheduled for Dec. 19 in Columbia County Circuit Court.

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