A longtime church treasurer in central Wisconsin is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the congregation.
According to a criminal complaint filed today, 62-year-old John Roenz served as the treasurer at Calvary Lutheran Church in Neillsville for over 20 years.
Church staff became suspicious of Roenz in September when they ran over-budget in both office supplies and church supplies and they found checks that were supposedly written for items they never purchased.
They alerted the Neillsville Police Department who found Roenz had been simply writing checks to himself or the church from the Church’s account, and then cashing them and keeping the money. He’d often put fictitious payments in the congregation’s accounting software.
Investigators documented over $140,000 of questionable checks written by Roenz between 2003 and this year.
During an interview, Roenz admitted he was taking money from the church this year, but denied embezzling in previous years. He claimed he was taking the money because he was upset at the Church for “running in the red” and that he’d been using the money to “go out to eat.”
If convicted of Theft by Bailee, Roenz could spend a maximum of 10 years behind bars and pay a $25,000 fine.
He’ll make his initial court appearance on January 3.