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MADISON - A former deputy treasurer and bookkeeper for the City of Seymour who embezzled nearly $600,000 was sentenced this afternoon in Outagamie County circuit court to serve five years in prison. The case was prosecuted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) following an investigation by the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).
DOJ's criminal complaint charged Carolyn M. Austin (46), of Depere, WI, with embezzling city funds during a five-year period ending in January 2005. In May, pursuant to a plea agreement, Austin entered no contest pleas to five counts of felony theft and one count of misconduct in public office, also a felony.
On Monday, Judge Harold V. Froehlich ordered Austin to serve five years in prison and be placed on extended supervision for an additional ten years. Austin was also ordered to serve five years of probation thereafter. The court also ordered restitution in an amount to be determined at a hearing on September 4, 2007.
According to the Department of Justice criminal complaint, during an annual audit in February 2005, Seymour's accounting firm discovered discrepancies in the city's payroll records and bank statements. City officials confronted Austin about the discrepancies and placed her on administrative leave. She resigned days later.
Agents from the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation obtained bank and city payroll records going back to January 2000. These records established that Austin prepared payroll records to falsely reflect direct deposits on behalf of other city employees who in fact were paid by payroll check. Austin deposited these funds into accounts she maintained at four local banks.
To cover up her thefts, Austin created numerous false journal entries in the city's computerized payroll system. These falsified entries hid the duplicate payroll payments in small amounts across many city expense accounts, making detection exceedingly difficult.
"I'm very pleased with the work of our DCI agents and DOJ attorneys in investigating and prosecuting this elaborate scheme to steal public funds," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. "It is a crime to embezzle taxpayer money for personal use, and my office will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure these cases of misconduct in office are pursued."
The case was investigated by agents of the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Paul L. Barnett.