Wascott ex-clerk faces chargesWascott's former clerk-treasurer faces arraignment on charges in connection with money missing from town’s coffers during her tenure.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Wascott's former clerk-treasurer faces arraignment on charges in connection with money missing from town’s coffers during her tenure.
Valda Bremanis, 66, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., is facing two counts felony misconduct in public office and one count 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 of Hayward, Wis., found misappropriation of funds dated back to 2001.
Bremanis is accused of falsifying records to cover up the misappropriation of town funds to her personal accounts and falsify 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 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 stated she did not keep a record of these checks, and there may be more checks than she remembered.
In August 2009, she met with Agent Jim Ohm of DCI and was again interviewed and admitted to more misappropriation of town funds. She stated 49 additional checks dated from April 2003 to May 2008, on a town of Wascott records spreadsheet were altered or misappropriated.
She also admitted to Ohm that she had forged minutes of an executive board session in which a $20,000 bonus was approved for her husband for extra work in the form of entering computerized records in a town re-evaluation performed by Associated Appraisal Consultants Company. 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 noted Bremanis misreported withholding taxes on payments to her husband.
Bremanis paid $72,000 in restitution to the town. Gondik stated releasing the funds, which were held by the Douglas County Clerk of Courts from 2009 until last year, was not an admission of guilt or liability by Bremanis.
Arraignment is set for June 14.