(Release) Lisa Buchholz, 48, Luck, Wis., was sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge William Conley to 36 months in federal prison for wire fraud and income tax evasion.  Buchholz pleaded guilty to these charges on July 28, 2016.  Judge Conley also imposed a three-year term of supervised release, and ordered Buchholz to pay restitution of $193,909.96 to the victim of her fraud scheme.

In February 2016, a federal grand jury sitting in Madison, Wis., returned a 13-count indictment against Buchholz.  The indictment alleged that while employed as a bookkeeper for Four Seasons Wood Products (FSWP) in Frederic, Wis., from May 2008 until June 2012, she devised a scheme to defraud the company.  The indictment further alleged that Buchholz failed to file income tax returns for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and that she committed income tax evasion in 2011 by making false statements to an IRS criminal investigator during an interview in 2013.

At yesterday's sentencing hearing, Judge Conley found that Buchholz caused a fraud loss of $172,176.94 to FSWP, and a tax loss of $111,553 to the IRS.  FSWP also incurred more than $21,000 in investigative costs due to Buchholz’s misconduct.   Michael Broten, the owner of FSWP, testified at the sentencing hearing, and told Judge Conley that Buchholz's conduct nearly destroyed his family business.  He told the judge she betrayed Broten's trust and her embezzlement caused Broten to lay off employees because the company had no money due to Buchholz's criminal conduct.

Judge Conley rejected Buchholz's claim that she engaged in the criminal conduct because she was a victim of abuse, finding that her last-minute allegations were not supported by any other witnesses, and in fact, were contradicted by other facts in the case.  Judge Conley told Buchholz he found that she had engaged in an outrageous fraud over a long period of time. He also found that she executed the fraud in a very calculated and sophisticated manner.  Judge Conley also noted that Buchholz has been fired by her last three employers for engaging in fraud.

The charges against Buchholz were the result of an investigation conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation and the Polk County Sheriff's Office.  The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.

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