Award-winning volunteer steals from charity - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Award-winning volunteer steals from charity

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A Marathon County woman is serving time for stealing money from a charity fundraiser.

Event committee member Aaron Blum says Jacki Gauerke-Gessler handled the money for Wausau's 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in 2012. He says the proceeds were meant to go to the fallen firefighters.

"The donations never got where they were supposed to go," said Blum.

Investigators say Gauerke-Gessler stole about $4,000.

"We put a lot of trust in her in taking care of that stuff and it's just disappointing finding that out," said Blum.

In April, she was found guilty of theft.

According to Marathon County District Attorney Lisa Gramer, she's serving 30 days in jail with three years of probation.

"She's still saying she doesn't know what happened to the money, so there's just a concern of having her handle money until she gets treatment for counseling and corrective thinking," said Gramer.

Gauerke-Gessler's attorney declined to comment.

Blum says the event organizers never expected this from her

Gauerke-Gessler had volunteered throughout the county.

She won the United Way Volunteer of the Year award in 2012, the same year she's accused of stealing that money.

"We were there for all the climbers and all the fallen firefighters to make sure that we got the money back," said Blum.

The district attorney says Gauerke-Gessler paid back all the money.

"I hope that people don't stop giving to charities because of things like this," said Gramer. "I think it's a rare occurance and I think that when it does occur it shocks people."

Blum says there won't be a stair climb this year.

"At the end there's still a bad feeling about it," said Blum. "You just kinda of push forward and I'm glad to say all the money has been accounted for."

As a part of her probation Gauerke-Gessler is not allowed to handle money as a volunteer.

She will be released from jail on June 18.

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