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Arbor Vitae Woman Found Guilty of Theft From Her Former Minocqua Employer


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that on June 11, 2013, Michelle R. Popenhagen, 41, of Arbor Vitae, entered pleas of "no contest" to 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, accepted the pleas and found Popenhagen guilty of those offenses.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled before Judge Madden, who is sitting by assignment as an Oneida County Circuit Judge in this case.


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. 


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, generating an ATM record of the deposit.  The complaint alleges that Popenhagen periodically kept some of the funds removed from the safe instead of depositing them into the ATM during the period from July 2003 through mid-June 2004.  According to the complaint, investigators documented that Popenhagen retained $28,500 of store funds and attempted to avoid detection by making false entries in store records.


Assistant Attorney General Michael G. Schafer represents the state in this prosecution as a special prosecutor for Oneida County.  The investigation was conducted by the Minocqua Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice -- Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).