Cub Scout Pack 599 in Hales Corners has been living financially month-to-month for the past few years, unable to offer discounted attendance at outings or even give out certain activity patches.
It's not because the Scouts haven't sold enough popcorn. It's because they got ripped off by their treasurer, authorities say.
Michelle Zweigler, 46, is charged with embezzling more than $15,000 from the organization. She faces a felony theft count that could mean a fine and prison time.
But Zweigler, who also is listed in court records as Michelle Felkner, is unlikely to spend time behind bars and could avoid having a felony conviction on her record. A deferred prosecution agreement is being negotiated and Milwaukee Circuit Judge Michelle Havas is set to rule on it next month, according to court records. Such agreements are designed to give some first-time offenders a second chance.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern noted a deferred prosecution agreement has not been finalized.
"The matter is still in the negotiation stages. There is no firm resolution yet," he said.
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Deferred prosecution agreements vary and could include a conviction. Restitution in the case has not been determined, according to court records.
If the agreement is finalized, approved by the judge and its terms are satisfied, the felony could effectively disappear for Zweigler. Despite the charge, she lists herself as working as an accountant for a company in Mukwonago.
Because of the theft, Pack 599 has had financial hardships since September 2016, Cub Master David Graat said in a statement issued late Tuesday.
"The situation is a regretful one and we trust that the legal system will resolve this in an appropriate manner," Graat said.
He said the organization has rebounded with a surge in fundraising.
"On a very positive note, through careful budgeting and amazing fundraising, especially in last spring’s popcorn sale, we are back on track to having cash on hand for budgeted expenses for the year. Activity patches are back! Funds are available to den leaders for projects and field trips!" he wrote in the statement to families.
In recent years, adults have been charged with stealing from youth soccer and baseball organizations locally. In each case, the defendants were convicted and did not get deferred prosecutions, though the dollar amounts were higher.
According to the criminal complaint against Zweigler, Graat took over the pack in late 2016 and noticed problems when he asked to see the financials. A bundle of checks was missing and so was a lot of money. He called Hales Corners police.
Zweigler, pack treasurer from 2013-'16, said she had reimbursed herself for charter fees she had paid with her own money. But a check of records showed otherwise — withdrawals from the Scout pack's account and deposits directly into Zweigler's personal bank account, often on the same day, the complaint said.
Another member of the pack said he was told by Zweigler that she was using the stolen money to pay her bills. Online court records indicate nearly a dozen cases of money judgments against Zweigler.
Zweigler filed bankruptcy in 2015 and stated she owed more than $444,000 and had assets of $11,229.
If a person filing bankruptcy has taken money from others, that money should be listed on the bankruptcy filing and failing to do so could be criminal fraud, said Michael Watton, a senior partner at the Watton Law Group, who is not involved in the case and had no specific knowledge of the matter.
Watton said if a bankruptcy client told him they have taken cash from somebody — for any reason — he would advise them to put it on the petition.
But, he added, if the money came from a questionable source, "I would advise the client not to file bankruptcy and to contact criminal counsel."
Zweigler, whose most current address is listed in Iowa but formerly lived in Oak Creek, was charged in October and the negotiations toward a deferred prosecution deal was announced in court Friday, generating anger among some families in the pack.
Zweigler did not return phone calls and email messages to provide information for this article. She lists her employment as an accountant at a Mukwonago nutritional company, Rousselot. A woman who answered the phone at the company confirmed Zweigler worked there but did not provide more information. A representative from the company did not return a follow-up call.
State records do not list Zweigler as a certified public accountant. Depending on her job, she may not have needed a license, a state licensing agency spokeswoman said.
Zweigler's attorney did not return a reporter's calls.
The hearing to determine if Zweigler will receive a deferred prosecution will be March 29. Victims are expected to be on hand.
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