Search warrant released in Wheaton Franciscan embezzlement case

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A former employee is accused of embezzling more than $1 million from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. The company says the woman stole from about 850 of her co-workers, and a newly-uncovered search warrant says the woman was rolling the dice in an attempt to make that cash worth more.

"We are told by internal and external auditors that this was a very sophisticated scheme, and obviously there was a loophole in our internal controls," Anne Ballentine with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare said.

Wheaton Franciscan says the scheme went on under the company's nose for nine years, and involved a Wheaton Franciscan payroll specialist.

The company says the scheme had the 49-year-old employee taking money that was withheld for taxes, and putting that money into her pockets. A search warrant suggests the money didn't stay there long.

In a 12-page warrant, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office says the suspect spent the money at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee.

According to the search warrant, the suspect told her bosses after she had been caught that she "believed she had transferred about $3,000 to $4,000 in WFH funds during each pay period beginning in about 2006," saying she had "a gambling problem."

The search warrant says the woman told officials "the money is gone," and said "it was mainly done at Canal Street."

The search warrant shows the Potawatomi Tribe is working with authorities and has handed over all of their relevant fiscal records to the District Attorney's Office.

Wheaton Franciscan is paying for all employees who may have been effected to meet with a tax expert. If they have lost money, the company will pay the difference.

Meanwhile, the District Attorney's Office says it is very close to making a charging decision.