Deborah R. Marcellus, 63, Turtle Lake, Wis., is charged with seven counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing a false income tax return.  The indictment alleges that she filed false income tax returns for 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, in which she under-reported her adjusted gross income.

The indictment alleges that from January 2011 to April 2017, Marcellus devised a scheme to defraud St. Joseph’s Catholic Congregation, a church and parish located in Rice Lake, Wis.  During this time period, Marcellus served as the Director of Development for St. Joseph’s, and was responsible for handling all financial and accounting matters for the church.

The indictment alleges that Marcellus misappropriated approximately $818,604 from St. Joseph’s bank accounts and used the funds for her personal benefit, including gambling.  The indictment also alleges that Marcellus generated checks to herself from checking accounts maintained by St. Joseph’s, and concealed her conduct by changing the name of the payee for the checks to a legitimate vendor of the church in the financial records maintained by the church.  In addition, the indictment alleges that Marcellus forged the signature of an authorized signatory for the St. Joseph’s checking accounts on the fraudulently obtained checks.  

If convicted, Marcellus faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the wire fraud charges, and five years on each of the tax charges.  The charges against Marcellus are the result of an investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.

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Blake Sentenced to Year in Jail for Embezzlement from Catholic Churches

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 | by Steve Briggs -- At the sentencing hearing for convicted church funds embezzler Michelle Blake Monday afternoon in Burnett County Circuit Court, Judge Daniel Tolan deviated from a plea agreement between the defense and prosecutor that would have allowed Michelle Blake to avoid any time behind bars.

Instead, Judge Tolan sentenced her to one year in county jail with Huber (work release privileges during the day) so she could keep her job at North States Industries in Siren and begin making monthly payments on the imposed $25,729.23 restitution to the churches ... FULL STORY

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