Local News

Belleville woman allegedly stole $850K from nonprofit

Police: 55-year-old used position as administrative secretary to make fraudulent transactions

NEW GLARUS, Wis. - A former Belleville school board member faces six counts of theft for allegedly stealing $850,000 from a New Glarus nonprofit organization, according to a release.

Joyce Ziehli, 55, worked full time for 31 years as the nonprofit's administrative secretary, and over the last 10 years of her employment, from 2003-2013, she used her position to complete hundreds of fraudulent transactions, police said.

In May 2013, New Glarus Home Inc. contacted police to investigate the theft after they discovered it in January 2013, according to the release.

Officials said there's no evidence that any of the money stolen belonged to the actual residents at New Glarus Home Inc.

"As far as we can tell, a lot of the money was being taken from the home and put into her account -- her banking accounts. A lot of it was taken as cash," Sgt. Jeff Sturdevant said. "She was using the money to pay credit cards for some side businesses they had, some personal accounts."

New Glarus Home Inc.'s Executive Director Rick Colby said the organization got suspicious of Ziehli's transactions after switching financial software last year. He said Ziehli was fired by the former director last January after information suggested she may be involved in questionable transfers.

Colby admitted part of the problem was that Ziehli was the only one with access to those accounts.

"We have since changed that and changed up the duties so it is a division of segregation of duties for all of the people here in the financial office in New Glarus," Colby said.

Colby said resident care was not compromised whatsoever by the funds allegedly stolen by Ziehli. New Glarus Home Inc. plans to meet with clients and their families this weekend to fully explain the situation.

"It will not happen on my watch," Colby said.

Ziehli faces six counts of theft in a business setting of more than $10,000, officials said. She will be in court Jan. 13 for an initial appearance.

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