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Douglas County grants emergency funds for Tri-County Corridor after alleged theft

A loss of more than $183,000 has the commission strapped for cash to maintain the trail that runs from Superior to Ashland.

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A dirt bike pulls onto the Tri-County Corridor in Superior on April 1, 2020, near Moccasin Mike Road. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Douglas County is granting the Tri-County Corridor Commission emergency funding to help fill the gap created after the trail director allegedly used more than $183,000 of the organization’s funds to cover personal expenses.

The Douglas County Board approved a $10,000 grant Thursday, Aug. 19, to the organization that maintains the trail that runs from Superior to Ashland.

Bayfield and Ashland counties approved similar grants to the organization, said Supervisor Scott Luostari, a Douglas County representative on the commission.

The funding will help support trail maintenance.

PREVIOUSLY: Trail director faces theft, tax charges Scott Williams is accused of stealing funds from the Tri-County Corridor Commission during his tenure as director.
Tri-County Corridor Commissioner Pat Daoust discovered the theft and reported it to the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office in June 2019. The sheriff’s office and Wisconsin Department of Revenue investigated the allegations and charges were filed in Bayfield County Circuit Court in March 2020.

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Investigators found that Scott A. Williams, 60, of Brule, misled trail commissioners by falsely reporting account balances, omitting written checks from the commission’s accounting software or entering checks with different names and amounts than the bank processed.

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A sign is posted along the Tri-County Corridor in Superior on April 1, 2020, near Moccasin Mike Road. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

DOR Special Agent Nicholas Weidman discovered Williams hadn’t reported the illicit proceeds in filing tax returns over the three years the thefts allegedly occurred.

Williams is facing one count of felony theft in a business setting exceeding $100,000 and six felony charges related to tax credits and fraudulent tax returns. He is scheduled for a plea and sentencing hearing Aug. 31 in Bayfield County Circuit Court.

Since the discovery of the thefts, Luostari said the commission has changed its accounting practices. Current practices include requiring to signatures two spend money and ensuring that every member of the commission has actual bank statements to review.

The Tri-County Corridor Commission is funded by Ashland, Bayfield and Douglas counties and grants from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert said the commission has said they would repay the funds if money is available, but he doesn’t anticipate repayment.

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