EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - A former accounting assistant with Regis Catholic Schools is facing charges for allegedly stealing more than $21,000 from the school system.
Wendy Cronin, 56, of Chippewa Falls, is charged in Eau Claire County with theft of a business setting over $10,000 and obstructing an officer.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Eau Claire County Court:
A Regis official first alerted authorities to a possible theft back in September of 2019. They said there were "multiple instances of missing cash and check deposits."
The Regis official said she reviewed all of the deposits starting with the 2017-2018 school year and noticed there were 16 missing deposits from February 26, 2018 to September 9, 2019. Most of those were related to athletic events.
The school official outlined those missing deposits (pictured above) which totaled $21,383.26 from things like athletic fees and admissions to sporting events.
The complaint states the only person who would have handled all of those deposits at the office was Cronin. The school official said Cronin was responsible for receiving deposits, entering them into an accounting system and depositing them into the bank.
Cronin was interviewed by authorities on three different occasions, the first of which came on September 25, 2019.
On September 30, 2019, authorities were alerted by Regis that Cronin had abruptly resigned. This after calling in sick the previous two workdays before the weekend.
In a second interview with authorities a month-and-half later, Cronin was asked why she quit so abruptly. She said she had wanted to leave for some time because she didn't like the work environment.
She was also asked about "a lot" of cash deposits into her checking account. She said that was from money she kept in a dresser drawer and would occasionally deposit. She was asked a second time about where the deposits came from and said, "not from Regis if that's what you're asking. I did not steal from Regis."
Fast forward to July 2020, Cronin was interviewed a third time by a detective and she admitted to lying but asked, "what did I lie about that was so terrible?" She went on to call herself "a terrible bank account person."
News 18 reached out to Regis Catholic Schools for a statement and received the following:
Eau Claire Police Department detectives have issued a court summons to an individual in question as it relates to the ongoing theft investigation at Regis Catholic Schools. Immediately after learning of the theft, we implemented measures to help keep Regis safer as it relates to financial matters. Because the investigation and court proceedings are ongoing, we are unable to provide any additional and/or specific details at this time.
Regis Catholic Schools now utilizes a more direct and secure method of depositing funds, have implemented additional fail-safes for all collections and deposits, insisted on multiple money counters, and secure any and all collected monies not yet deposited. Thankfully, the financial damage is minimal because our insurance company will cover the unfortunate loss of funds.
All donations made in support of our annual Regis Fund, bequests, memorials, the annual Regis Catholic Schools Auction, and our Scrip program were untouched and safe. In fact, your generous donations are now safer than ever thanks to our new processes for handling all monies.Regis Catholic Schools
News 18 first reported on the alleged embezzlement back in September of 2019. At that point, Eau Claire police were just beginning their investigation.
If convicted on both counts, Cronin could spend the next 10 years and nine months in prison. She also faces up to $35,000 in fines.
Cronin was in court on Tuesday morning for an initial appearance where a $5,000 signature bond was set. She is ordered not to have contact with Regis Catholic Schools.
She will be back in court for a hearing on November 5.