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Preliminary hearing set for former Bellevue clerk

By Heather Graves

BROWN COUNTY – The former municipal court clerk in Bellevue facing three felony charges for allegedly stealing from the village made her initial appearance in Brown County Circuit Court Wednesday, July 10.

Dawn Kreuser, 54, is facing two counts of misconduct in office and one count of theft by an employee in a business setting.

“As soon as the village suspected there was a cash handling issue, we turned the matter over to Brown County to investigate, and if warranted, file charges,” said Diane Wessel, Bellevue village administrator. “The village directed (the new clerk) to cooperate and assist Brown County with the investigation.”

Kreuser was hired by the village on June 1, 2003, and was responsible for all administration, clerical and financial functions of the village’s municipal court.

She was first hired as a part-time clerk, then was hired full-time Dec. 29, 2007.

Wessel said Kreuser also served as the municipal court clerk for the Brown County Joint Municipal Court.

On Aug. 10, 2018, village staff, along with village municipal judge Ronald Metzler, met with Kreuser to address personnel issues.

Wessel said those issues are unrelated to the criminal changes that have been filed against Kreuser.

“At that time, Ms. Kreuser opted to resign, effective immediately,” Wessel said.

It wasn’t until several months later that the inconsistencies were found by the village’s new municipal court clerk, Pam Cornelius.

“In October, a citizen came to the municipal court office to pay the remaining unpaid balance of a fine,” Wessel said.

The resident presented a hand-written receipt for a previous partial payment. Wessel said this was alarming for many reasons.

“The village does not issue hand-written receipts, partial payment is not normal practices by the village, there was no record of such receipt book in the office and the citizen’s fine appeared zeroed out in the municipal court reporting system,” Wessel said. “Ms. Cornelius notified me of the circumstances and I requested Brown County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the matter for possible theft.”

This wasn’t the only resident who presented the village with copies of receipts for payments the village had no record of.

Officials met with Kreuser in November 2018 to discuss the discrepancies.

It was during that interview that Kreuser allegedly admitted to taking money six or seven times.

Kreuser said the thefts happened when she would issue hand-written receipts instead of processing them through the Titan Public Safety Solution (TiPSS) software system.

The amount of money taken differs between what Kreuser allegedly said she took, around $1,000, to what investigators say is missing, around $4,400.

In response to these events, the village has implemented a variety of proactive practices to hopefully negate these issues from happening again.

A security camera was installed in the municipal court office – specifically directed at the area of cash handling.

Clerks will now need to submit more detailed reports to the finance director of municipal court payments, as well as provide monthly reports of court forfeiture records to the municipal judge for review.

Moreover, a protocol has also been implemented that imports data directly from the municipal court’s TiPSS software directly into the village’s accounting software, eliminating manual entries.

Kreuser will be back in court at 9:30 a.m. July 31 for her preliminary hearing.

A $5,000 signature bond was set.

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