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Former land trust official fined $883

MENOMONIE -- The former associate director of the West Wisconsin Land Trust was fined $883 for helping the trust's former executive director steal money from the organization.

MENOMONIE -- The former associate director of the West Wisconsin Land Trust was fined $883 for helping the trust's former executive director steal money from the organization.

Edith M. Kadlec, 52, formerly of Menomonie, pleaded no contest to the charge of misdemeanor theft Monday in Dunn County Court. She apologized before sentencing by Judge Bill Stewart.

"It was never my intention to hurt the organization or the special people that I worked with," she said. "I am truly sorry for their pain."

Former employee Jane Tappen told Stewart she was fired in 2009 after she expressed concern about fraud within the organization. Kadlec was Tappen's supervisor.

According to the criminal complaint against Kadlec:

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An unidentified land trust employee contacted Menomonie police investigator Dave Pellett after the employee discovered a copy of a land trust check for $2,500 dated Sept. 3, 2008, and signed by Kadlec. The notation on the memo line of the check states "tractor mower." However, the land trust did not own a tractor mower or a tractor.

The land trust executive director at the time, Richard E. Gauger, owned a hobby farm, and authorities suspect he used land trust money to buy a lawn mower. Like Kadlec, Gauger had also initialed the check.

Gauger, 54, of Knapp, recently pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of theft for inappropriately using his corporate credit card from January 2007 to July 2010. Gauger also pleaded no contest to a felony charge of theft by false representation.

Stewart accepted a two-year deferred prosecution agreement on the felony charge. If Gauger successfully completes probation, the felony count will be dismissed. Sentencing on the two misdemeanor charges is scheduled for Sept. 9.

According to the criminal complaint against Gauger:

Gauger was fired on July 12, 2010 after 10 years with the land trust amid a federal government inquiry into misappropriation of federal grant money by the organization. Interim land trust executive director Jane Prohaska said a review of credit card receipts showed Gauger made numerous inappropriate charges to land trust funds. Kadlec had approved those expenditures.

Dunn County assistant district attorney Andrew Maki said the plea agreement calls for the state to ask for Gauger to receive two years of probation. If he pays an additional $10,000 in restitution, the state would recommend 40 days in jail. If Gauger pays an additional $20,000, the state would recommend 20 days in jail.

Gauger has already paid $30,000 in restitution, Maki said.

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Powers can be reached at 715-556-9018 or pamela.powers@ecpc.com .

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Copyright (c) 2011, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Related Topics: CRIME
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