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Ex-Wascott clerk accused of theft | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published May 03, 2013, 12:00 AM

Ex-Wascott clerk accused of theft

Wascott’s former clerk-treasurer faces arraignment on charges related to money missing from the town’s coffers during her tenure.

By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram

Wascott’s former clerk-treasurer faces arraignment on charges related to money missing from the town’s coffers during her tenure.

Valda Bremanis, 66, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., is facing two counts of felony misconduct in public office and one count of felony theft in a public office setting. During a hearing Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court, Bremanis, through attorney Rick Gondik, waived her right to a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause on the felony charges.

Bremanis served as clerk-treasurer in Wascott from 1999 until she resigned in 2009.

A 2010 audit of the town’s finances for 2007 and 2008 revealed $72,426 was missing. Anderson, Hagen & Moe, certified public accountants based in Hayward, found misappropriation of money dating back to 2001.

Bremanis is accused of falsifying records to cover up the misappropriation of town funds to her personal accounts and falsifying board action that resulted in her husband, the former town assessor, receiving a $20,000 bonus.

Bremanis has maintained that her husband, Andre Bremanis, was unaware of her actions.

The discrepancies were first discovered when Wascott resident Janice Newsome started making inquiries into the town’s finances. The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation launched an investigation in 2008.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Feb. 13, 2009, Bremanis provided a list of town of Wascott checks she had written to divert town money to her personal accounts, many written during 2007. She said she didn’t keep a record of these checks and that there might be more checks than she remembered.

In August 2009, she met with Agent Jim Ohm and admitted to more misappropriation of town money, according to the complaint. She said 49 additional checks dated from April 2003 to May 2008 on a town of Wascott spreadsheet were altered or misappropriated, the complaint said.

She also told Ohm that she had forged minutes of an executive board session in which a $20,000 bonus supposedly was approved for her husband for extra work entering computerized records for a town revaluation performed by Associated Appraisal Consultants Company, according to the complaint. Town account records list two $10,000 payments to Andre Bremanis. The meeting, which was alleged to have occurred June 27, 2006, never took place and the bonus was never approved, according to members of the board.

The complaint also said Bremanis misreported withholding taxes on payments to her husband.

Bremanis paid $72,000 in restitution to the town. Gondik said that releasing the money, which was held by the Douglas County Clerk of Courts from 2009 until last year, was not an admission of guilt or liability by Bremanis.

Arraignment on the charges is set for June 14.

via Ex-Wascott clerk accused of theft | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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