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Columbus Woman Sentenced for Theft from Parish 

PORTAGE — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that Susan Droessler, of Columbus, was sentenced today in Columbia County Circuit Court on one count of felony theft for stealing thousands of dollars from St. Jerome’s Parish, her employer for a number of years.  Judge Alan J. White announced the sentence today after having convicted her on August 19, 2013, following her guilty plea.


The court withheld sentence and placed Droessler on five years probation.  As conditions of probation, Droessler was ordered to spend one year in jail and pay restitution in the amount of $167,388.79, have no job with a financial responsibility, and not have any contact with St. Jerome’s Parish and School.  The first six months of her jail sentence is to be served straight time with no release privileges.  As part of the plea agreement in this case, Droessler stipulated to the length of the jail term and the amount of restitution.  She had already paid $100,000 in restitution in advance of sentencing.


According to the criminal complaint, Droessler worked for a period of time as a secretary and bookkeeper for St. Jerome Parish and School in Columbus, WI.  In January of 2010, a trustee on the parish finance council discovered that for a period of time dating back to at least the beginning of 2007, large sums of money had been misappropriated from the church and school.  A subsequent investigation by the Columbus Police Department revealed that the defendant, who was able to write checks from the school and parish accounts, used parish and school funds to pay for various personal and family expenses, such as items totaling more than $15,000 at Wal-Mart, more than $17,000 for various credit card accounts in the defendant’s name, and numerous other expenses for items and bills.  It is also alleged that the defendant enrolled herself in full-time health benefits through the parish, to which she was not entitled.  It is believed that the total amount of premiums paid by the parish from August 2004 through August 2010 for the defendant’s family coverage, dental plan, and vision insurance was in excess of $88,000.  Parish officials confirmed that the defendant was not entitled to receive these benefits, nor was she entitled to use any of the school funds for personal use.  As a result of the defendant’s theft, the parish incurred bills for accounting and legal services, as well as IRS penalties and interest for taxes that were not paid.  Restitution was ordered to compensate the parish for those losses.


The defendant faced a maximum sentence of a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both. 


Assistant Attorney General David W. Maas represented the State.  This case was investigated by the Columbus Police Department.  Victim services were provided by the Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services.