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Eau Claire Co. worker charged with stealing thousands of dollars

(WEAU)
Published: Aug. 30, 2018 at 3:26 PM CDT
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Susan O’Connor was brought on board with the finance department of Eau Claire County on June 4th as a temporary employee.

County administrator Kathryn Schauf said her background check was done by the temp agency – not the county.

"We work with the temporary agency to supply us with all the right individuals to perform the work," Schauf said to WEAU 13 News on Thursday.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday, the 49-year-old O’Connor is charged with two counts of theft in a business setting. She’s accused of drawing two checks, from county accounts and then, depositing them for her own use.

One of the checks was for $4,929 to a person she states as her landlord and the other for $15,000 made out to herself.

"The minute that we had this in hand and we're looking at what had occurred, changes had been made by the very next day and meetings had been had between the various parties to look at process and make process improvement," Schauf said.

When authorities interviewed O’Connor on Monday of this week, she said she used the money to pay bills, rent and a trip she paid for to Pennsylvania, which included withdrawing more than $1,000 in cash. The complaint states she said her actions represented "poor judgement" and that "it wasn't malicious."

The complaint says the sheriff's department got a list of judgements and other personal financial defaults tied to O’Connor, totaling $184,441.78. When questioned by authorities, an official with Kelly Services said they were "unaware of any issues regarding Susan O’Connor."

"I would think that it would give pause for a temporary employee, who has a history of financial problems, to be partnered with an organization that is looking for someone in that capacity," Schauf said.

In 2016, former treasurer Larry Lokken and his deputy Kay Onarheim were found guilty of stealing almost $1.4 million from Eau Claire County. With the memory of those embezzlement cases still fresh, Schauf said stop-gaps put in place since then worked to prevent any further damage.

"The minute that we had this in hand and we're looking at what had occurred, changes had been made by the very next day and meetings had been had between the various parties to look at process and make process Improvement,” she said. “So we didn't wait. We put those in place immediately.

"There is no such thing as an absolutely perfect system and it requires continued vigilance and work. I would say that that continued vigilance paid off in this instance."


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A temporary employee in the finance department for Eau Claire County is charged with stealing thousands of dollars.

Susan O'Connor, 49, faces two felony theft counts.

O’Connor was hired nearly three months ago as a temp to work in the county's finance department.

The charges filed Thursday are tied to two checks, investigators say, she drew out from that position, totaling close to $20,000. The checks were withdrawn in July, and investigators say evidence shows her making deposits tied to the checks.

When authorities interviewed O’Connor on Monday of this week, she said she used the money to pay bills, rent and a trip she paid for to Pennsylvania, which included withdrawing more than a thousand dollars in cash

Thursday, County Administrator Kathryn Schauf said, “We are extremely pleased our controls and systems helped determine a theft was in progress. Our deputies were alerted and the suspect was identified immediately. “

The complaint says the sheriff's department got a list of judgements and other personal financial defaults tied to O’Connor, totaling more than $184,000.

O’Connor has a hearing scheduled for October 11.