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Tag Archive | "embezzlement"

Former nature center director charged with embezzlement

David Kieft. Facebook photo.

By Judy Reed

David Kieft, the former director of Howard Christensen Nature Center, was charged Wednesday with embezzling money from the center. The Michigan State Treasury and the IRS have also opened their own investigation into his financial activities while director there.

Kieft, of Kent City, was employed at the HCNC, located in Tyrone Township, for about four years. He resigned on August 28, 2017, reportedly because he had opened a new business (Ridgetown Grub, in Sparta) and wanted to spend more time there and with his family. Upon his resignation, one of the board members noticed that some of the bills had not been paid, and began digging into all the financial activities of Kieft. On September 3, the board member called the Kent County Sheriff Department to report he had embezzled funds.

Kieft reportedly wrote himself numerous checks, which he made out to unregistered businesses, and used the Nature Center Paypal account to purchase a multitude of items for himself and his businesses. The investigation found a minimum of $4,000 to $5,000 in misappropriated funds, mainly through the Paypal account.

The IRS and Michigan State Treasury investigations are separate from the Kent County Sheriff investigation, and more charges could eventually be leveled on Kieft.

He was arraigned on Wednesday, February 28, in 63rd District Court, on one charge of embezzlement of over $1,000, but under $20,000, of a non-profit or charity. Bond was set at $1,000 and he bonded out. His next appearance in court is a probable cause hearing scheduled for March 12, at 10 a.m.

Under the charge, which is a felony, he could face up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of not more than $15,000 or three times the value of the money or property embezzled, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Bruce Mayeda, President of the Board of Directors at the Nature Center, gave us this statement on the arrest of Kieft: “On behalf of Howard Christensen Nature Center, we are cooperating fully with the Sheriffs department, but we cannot comment on an on going investigation of a former employee. We are open! We are under new management and we have some really fun events coming up. We would love to see you all come out and show your support. You can find our event schedule at our website, howardchristensen.org.”

The Nature Center is located at 16190 Red Pine Dr. Kent City, MI 49330. 

The Center is also looking for donors to help sustain the center. You can visit them online at www.howardchristensen.org to donate.

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Woman sentenced to prison for embezzling over $300,000


Stephanie DeBoer was sentenced to four years in prison. Facebook photo.

Stephanie DeBoer spent the money on credit cards, lingerie, concert tickets

A Cedar Springs woman will spend four years behind bars for embezzling over $300,000 from a union she did bookkeeping work for.

Stephanie Marie DeBoer, 41, of Cedar Springs, was sentenced on February 20, 2018, to four years in federal prison, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney imposed the sentence. Judge Maloney also ordered her to pay full restitution, and to serve a period of supervision after completing her prison term.

DeBoer was the former office manager and bookkeeper of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 876, in Edmore, Michigan. Between 2012 and September 2015, DeBoer embezzled more than $307,000 from the union by writing unauthorized checks to herself and others, making unauthorized payroll deposits, sending money to pay her credit cards, and making unauthorized purchases. Among other things, DeBoer used more than $89,000 of the embezzled money to make payments on 16 different personal credit cards, and made more than $54,000 in unauthorized charges on two different union officers’ union-issued credit cards. The unauthorized charges included $907 for Katy Perry concert tickets and more than $5,000 in purchases from Victoria’s Secret.

“Stephanie DeBoer abused her fiduciary responsibility as the office manager and bookkeeper by embezzling more than $300,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – Local Union 876. We will continue to work with our federal and state law enforcement partners and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards to safeguard the assets of union members,” said James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge, Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

“Safeguarding union finances and combatting embezzlement of union funds in labor unions is a very high priority for the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards,” said Ian Burg, Detroit-Milwaukee District Director. “The embezzlement by Ms. DeBoer was significant, and the $307,563 she embezzled for her personal use was the equivalent of more than 15 percent of the union’s annual dues receipts and nearly 25 percent of its reported cash on hand.

Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that OLMS will fully investigate and seek justice when anyone attempts to use their union position for personal financial gain.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the Office of Labor Management Standards. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler.

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Township official arrested for embezzlement

Donna Mae Goodsell

A woman employed as sexton for cemeteries in two Montcalm townships has been arrested for embezzlement.

According to the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office, they conducted an ongoing investigation regarding embezzlement in Day and Evergreen Townships after a complaint was filed regarding financial record inconsistencies. They concluded that the embezzlement occurred between 2012 and 2017, and led to the arrest of a 60-year-old Fenwick woman.

The investigation revealed that Donna Mae Goodsell was employed by both townships to be the sexton of their cemeteries. Goodsell’s duties included the sale of plots, maintenance, opening and closing of graves sites, and contracting for the setting of headstone footings. Goodsell allegedly did not properly forward all of the funds she received from residents to the respective Townships.

On November 30, 2017, Goodsell turned herself in to the Sheriff’s Office and was arrested on two felony warrants. Goodsell is charged with one count of embezzlement from each of the townships and is currently out on bond. The maximum sentence for each charge is 5 years in prison.

“Thankfully, there is no evidence that individual citizens were overcharged. While the township governments did not receive the payments, no individuals appear to be victims,” said Sheriff Williams.

Goodsell’s next court date is Friday, December 8, 2017.

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Former credit union manager sentenced for embezzlement


Kathryn Sue Simmerman Embezzled Almost $2 Million From Shoreline Federal Credit Union 

A Muskegon woman will serve time in prison for stealing money from a Norton Shores credit union.

According to United States Attorney Patrick Miles Jr.,  Kathryn Sue Simmerman, 55, of Muskegon, Michigan, was sentenced to 78 months (six and a half years) in federal prison Monday, January 4, for embezzling $1.9 million from her former employer, Shoreline Federal Credit Union. She was also ordered to pay $1.9 million in restitution and serve two years of court supervision following her release from prison. U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell imposed the sentence. He remanded Simmerman to prison immediately after issuing the sentence.

For more than 15 years, Simmerman embezzled $1,945,000 from Shoreline by removing cash from its vault and placing it in her purse. She deposited some of the cash into Shoreline accounts she controlled, and took the remainder of it home to spend on her own use and enjoyment. She hid her activity by manipulating Shoreline’s books and records.

The case was investigated by the Norton Shores Police Department and Special Agents from the FBI and IRS. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler.

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Commissioner Wawee resigns


N-Commissioner-charged-Michael-Wawee-webKent County Commissioner Michael Jay Wawee, 43, recently charged with two felonies, is resigning from the Kent County Board of Commissioners, effective February 28.

He was charged earlier this month with embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 from a non-profit, and false pretenses of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000. The charges stem from his work for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids selling cemetery plots, funeral services and memorial services.
Wawee released a statement saying that he needs to focus his energy on his family and proving his innocence, which means he will not be able to dedicate the time necessary to represent his constituents on the County Commission.

He represents Walker and part of Grand Rapids.

The application process for a new commissioner starts immediately.

“We, as a board, have continued to operate without a glitch,” said Board Chairman Dan Koorndyk. “It has not impacted day-to-day operations at all. We have a professional, dedicated staff in Kent County that manages the operations.”

The Board of Commissioners has 30 days from the effective date of resignation to select an individual to replace Mr. Wawee through the rest of his term. The person selected for that seat will hold it through December 2014. Those seeking the appointment to District 6 to replace Mr. Wawee should send a letter and resume to the Board of Commissioners Office, 300 Monroe Avenue, NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, by March 5, 2014.


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Kent County Commissioner charged with embezzlement


N-Commissioner-charged-Michael-Wawee-webThe Montcalm County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Kent County Commissioner Michael Jay Wawee, 43, with two felonies—embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 from a non-profit, and false pretenses of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000.

The charges stem from his work for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids selling cemetery plots, funeral services and memorial services.

The investigation was undertaken by the Grand Rapids Police Department, at the request of the Diocese. The case is being prosecuted by the Montcalm County Prosecutor’s Office to avoid any impropriety, since Wawee is a Kent County Commissioner representing Walker and part of Grand Rapids.

Wawee was arraigned on the charges on Monday, February 3, in 61st District Court in Grand Rapids. His bond was set at $10,000  (10 percent) and he bonded out Wednesday, February 5. He has a preliminary exam scheduled for February 11, at 11 a.m. The first charge is punishable by 10 years and/or $15,000, and the second is punishable by 5  years and/or $10,000.

Meanwhile, Kent County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dan Koorndyk removed Wawee as Chair of the Legislative and Human Resources Committee, and named Commissioner Shana Shroll (District 19) to the lead role. “Duties on the Legislative and Human Resources Committee are crucial to the people of Kent County,” Koorndyk noted.  “Members develop legislative priorities, study proposed legislation that could affect the county, and review county personnel policy and procedure manuals.  It requires a great deal of time and commitment, and I felt the change in leadership was necessary to assure continuity and success.”

Wawee remains a member of the Board of Commissioners.

“Commissioner Wawee has been charged with a crime, and, as due process allows, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” Koorndyk stated.

Wawee is the second commissioner charged with a crime in the last few months. Former Commissioner Gary Rolls resigned January 1 after being charged with four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct in November.


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