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Tag Archive | "embezzlement"

Former EGLE employee charged with embezzlement

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Photo from State of Michigan.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and EGLE announced Wednesday that a former employee of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has been charged with embezzling more than $850,000 from the State of Michigan. 

Joseph Pettit, 49, is charged with the following: three counts of embezzlement over $100,000, a 20-year felony; four counts of uttering and publishing, a 14-year felony; and using a computer to commit a crime, a 20-year felony. 

Any entity that wants to drill or operate any type of well in the State of Michigan must apply for a permit and post a conformance bond with the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division of EGLE. When the owner of the well changes hands, the original owner gets the bond back. 

As an employee of EGLE, most recently as an environmental quality specialist, Pettit was responsible for completing the process of releasing bonds back to companies and facilitating the transfer of bonds back to the original owner. Instead, Pettit created fake vendors and diverted these funds to bank accounts that he supplied for these vendors. Pettit worked at EGLE from 1996 until January of 2020. 

“This case is a reminder that my office treats it very seriously when anyone abuses the system for their own gain,” said Nessel. “I am grateful to EGLE for their cooperation and diligence in ensuring those who violate the public trust are held accountable and in working to ensure something like this never happens again.” 

EGLE leadership became aware of potential discrepancies in September of 2020, and immediately contacted Michigan State Police, which conducted the investigation. 

“Our discovery of potential crimes was immediately referred to law enforcement, and we continue to provide them everything they need to ensure justice is done on behalf of the State of Michigan,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE director. “We are also doing everything we can to prevent this from occurring again, including strengthening internal financial controls to provide even greater checks and balances against fraud.” 

It is alleged that between 2018 and 2020, Pettit embezzled more than $850,000. Suspected losses from 2013 through 2016 are barred by the statute of limitations. 

“We hold ourselves to the highest standards of government ethics at EGLE and that starts with vigilantly stewarding public funds,” Clark said. “So when an employee disregards department values and violates the public trust, it harms not only Michigan’s 10 million residents who count on us to use their resources wisely to protect the environment and public health, but also fellow members of the EGLE team who dedicate their lives to that mission.”         

Pettit was charged in the Lansing District Court 54-A. He Is expected to appear in court Friday, April 16, for arraignment.  

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Two charged in youth football embezzlement

By Judy Reed

Photo by April Victorson

Two former officers on the 2017 Cedar Springs Youth Football League board were arraigned this week on charges of embezzlement in 63rd District Court. 

According to Det. Mike Tanis, with the Kent County Sheriff Department, past president James Michael Crouch and former treasurer Heather Marie Vaughn were both charged with embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 from a non-profit or charitable organization, which is a 10-year felony.

The CSYFL contacted the police in March, after they found they had $12,000 missing, and $6,800 in unpaid invoices. About $7,000 of the missing funds was money they had saved to buy new jerseys for the kids. 

There were only two board members responsible for the money during the 2017 year—Vaughn and Crouch.

As the investigation proceeded, it was discovered that the two board members each took money from the league at different times. The missing money was never deposited into the league’s bank account.

The current board has since been doing fundraising to make up some of the shortfall. If you would like to donate, you can do it online by visiting https://cedarspringsyouthfootball.sportngin.com/register/form/058188639.

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Police investigate embezzlement from youth football 

The Cedar Springs Youth Football League needs the community’s help to stay afloat after it was discovered funds were embezzled from the group. Photo by April Victorson.

By Judy Reed

When the Cedar Springs Youth Football League board met in January and heard what their balance was, they knew something was very wrong. A lot of money was missing—including the $7,000 they had saved over the past two years to be able to buy new jerseys with this season.

The board began digging into bank and financial statements to try to piece together what happened. They also began getting invoices and collection calls from their equipment supplier. What they found was that they had $10,000 missing and $6,800 in unpaid invoices.

“It was a huge double whammy for us,” said trustee Amy Gillette.

And the only two board members that had previously had access to the money or bank account are no longer on the board.

According to Detective Mike Tanis, with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, they received the case on March 16. “We think it was two different people skimming the funds,” he said. “Each didn’t know the other was doing it.” He is working to bring charges against the people he believes is involved, possibly by the end of this month. He confirmed the two suspects are no longer on the board, and that the members of the current board were not involved. 

“We are working closely with the Kent County Sheriff Department to bring justice and answers about the embezzlement of our program to our football players, families, and community,” the league said in a letter on page 5. They apologized that it happened, and noted that they are implementing an embezzlement-proof system going forward.

In the meantime, the league could use the community’s help to get the season off the ground. Gillette said that the registration fees should cover what they need to run the program this year, but grades 3-6 will have to wear the old jerseys they were trying to replace. She said the most urgent need is the unpaid invoices from 2017 equipment sales ($6,800). They also suffered from the vandalism that hit Skinner Field earlier this year, but she said Skinner Field was going to try to cover that cost. 

One way you can help is by attending a fundraising event they are holding on July 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Skinner Field. There will be a dunk tank, kids games, bake sale, plant sale, can drive, gift basket raffles, spirit wear, and concessions. Tickets will be used for all events, and are two for $1.00. 

They will also be holding some can drives. From July 8-13, you can drop them off at Family Farm & Home from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. On July 14, drop them off at Skinner Field from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On July 15, drop off at Family Farm & Home, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Other ways to help include volunteering, and personal and corporate sponsorships. 

Please call Amy Gillette at 616-915-5509 if  you’d like to help in any way.

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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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