MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Joleen Minnich, 41, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William Conley to 12 months and one day in prison for wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Minnich pleaded guilty to these charges on April 25, 2022,
The investigation revealed that between 2014 and 2017, Minnich used her position as office manager for County Veterinary Hospital in Bloomer, Wisconsin, to embezzle approximately $224,596 from the business’ bank account by creating 204 fraudulent checks to herself. The fraudulent checks fell into three categories.
- First, Minnich generated non-payroll checks to herself and failed to enter the checks into the accounting software program known as QuickBooks.
- Second, Minnich used QuickBooks to generate flexible spending checks to herself but failed to use the majority of the funds for out-of-pocket health care costs as required.
- Third, Minnich used QuickBooks to generate health insurance checks to herself but failed to use the majority of the funds for health insurance costs.
In addition, as the office manager, Minnich was responsible for remitting County Veterinary Hospital’s payroll taxes to the IRS. During her plea hearing, Minnich admitted that she failed to remit the payroll taxes because she used those funds to hide her embezzlement. To conceal her conduct, Minnich created false entries in QuickBooks showing she had remitted the payroll taxes. Minnich also admitted that she failed to report the embezzled funds on her personal 2017 tax return.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Conley stated that the severity of Minnich’s conduct and the length of the fraud were aggravating factors. Judge Conley also noted that the owner of County Veterinary Hospital was a longtime family friend of Minnich and her decision to embezzle money from the business was a “special type of betrayal.”
At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Judge Conley ordered Minnich to pay a total of $278,445 in restitution for her embezzlement scheme and tax crime.
The charges against Minnich were a result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.