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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that on August 7, 2013, Michelle R. Popenhagen, 42, of Arbor Vitae, was sentenced on three counts of misdemeanor theft from her former employer, Save More Food Markets, Inc., of Minocqua. The Honorable Patrick Madden, Circuit Court Judge for Iron County, presided at the sentencing hearing in Oneida County Circuit Court.
The court ordered Popenhagen to serve three years probation on each count, concurrently, with conditions that she: pay $1,000.00 restitution to Save More Food Markets and $27,500.00 to Society Insurance (the store's insurer); not be employed in any capacity in which she handles cash unless approved of her probation officer; pay required costs, fees and assessments; and, serve nine months in the county jail on Count One, with work release privileges. The probation term commences immediately. The jail term is to commence within 60 days.
The original criminal complaint charged Popenhagen with two counts of felony theft and two counts of making fraudulent writings, also felonies. As part of a settlement agreement, those charges were amended to three misdemeanor counts of "Theft by Employee" in violation of sections 943.20(1)(b) and (3)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes. The defendant entered pleas of "no contest" to those charges in June, 2013, acknowledging that the evidence was sufficient to prove her guilt.
According to the criminal complaint on file, Popenhagen was employed by Save More Food Markets as a head cashier until June 2004. Her duties included replenishing the cash in the store-owned automated teller machine (“ATM”). She was to retrieve cash from the store’s safe, record the amount in an accounting journal, place the funds into the ATM and then enter the amount deposited into the ATM on the ATM’s keypad. During the period from July 2003 through mid-June 2004, Popenhagen repeatedly stole cash by not placing all of the money in the ATM. Investigators documented that $28,500.00 was unaccounted for in the store's ATM accounts and that false entries were made in store records regarding that account.
Assistant Attorney General Michael G. Schafer acted as a special prosecutor for Oneida County. The investigation was conducted originally by the Minocqua Police Department and, later, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).