Athens woman sentenced in business theft case - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Athens woman sentenced in business theft case

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WAUSAU (WAOW) – A 41-year-old Athens woman will spend two and a half years in prison after being convicted of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the business where she worked for nearly two decades.

Michelle Walters was sentenced in Marathon County Court Friday afternoon. A judge also ordered Walters to serve five years on extended supervision.

Walters reached a plea deal back in March. She was convicted on three counts of felony theft of more than $10,000 after prosecutors agreed to drop four other counts. On Friday, a judge also ordered Walters to pay back the money, which stands around $280,000.

A criminal complaint said the money was taken from Northwestern Wisconsin Association of Wausau through a scheme involving unauthorized checks dating back to at least 2006.

"The amount stolen so far is over $500,000," the complaint said.

Walters told investigators "she has a huge credit card problem," and she spent the money on "little things" like clothes for her children and husband, the complaint said.

She worked for the company nearly 20 years, according to court documents.

The criminal complaint said Northwestern Wisconsin Association performs accounting and administers corporate retirement plans.

The complaint documented incidents where Northwestern checks were written Walters, signed by Walters and endorsed by Walters.

According to the complaint, Walters admitted to executives of the company that she took the money and she worked out a "demand note" with the company to repay the money.

The complaint said a company executive asked Michelle what she did with the money. "He said she told him that she's not right in the head and she has a spending problem," the complaint said.

Court records Northwester paid Walters $88,000 in salary and wages in 2011.

In January, Walters told police she was putting her house up for sale to repay Northwestern and had found a new job earning $55,000, the complaint said.

"I asked Walters if she had any addictions such as drugs or gambling and she replied no," the complaint said, citing a police report. "She said she has taken trips to (Las) Vegas every other year, but mainly sees shows."

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