Former Bellevue clerk sentenced to jail
By John McCracken
BELLEVUE – A former Bellevue municipal court clerk has been convicted on one felony count of misconduct in public office and one felony count of theft by an employee in a business setting.
At an Aug. 12 sentencing hearing, Dawn Kreuser, 56, was sentenced to nine months in Brown County jail and three years of probation.
She was also ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and pay restitution of roughly $4,400.
Kreuser was charged with theft and misconduct in 2019 after Bellevue staff noticed a cash handling problem.
When village staff met with Kreuser in 2018 to address concerns unrelated to the mishandling of funds, she resigned immediately.
In the following months, Bellevue and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office launched a joint investigation into the cash inconsistencies – which eventually totaled $4,341 in losses from 2016-18.
In a 2019 investigation interview, Kreuser said the thefts happened when she would issue hand-written receipts instead of processing them through the Titan Public Safety Solution software system.
At the sentencing hearing, Defense Attorney Randall Petrouske said his client deeply regretted her actions.
He pointed to her lack of criminal history and a history of chronic physical and mental health problems as reasons for leniency in sentencing.
Kreuser plead guilty to the two counts in April.
Before sentencing was handed down, Kreuser said she was unable to sleep at night because of her remorse.
“I want to tell everyone that I’m really sorry,” Kreuser said. “I apologize to the court and I apologize to the Village of Bellevue and the victims that I hurt.”
Current Bellevue municipal clerk and self-identified former friend of Kreuser, Pam Cornelius, read a written statement at sentencing, outlining how the misconduct harmed her personally and professionally.
“The real victim isn’t you, it’s your friends, your coworkers, the employers and the other employees of the justice system,” Cornelius said. “And most importantly, the citizens that trusted you to do what you were hired to do.”
Cornelius said she was present on behalf of herself and not the village.
Branch 7 Brown County Circuit Judge Timothy Hinkfuss said Kreuser had betrayed the public trust of the judicial branch and cast a shadow over other village employees.
“The message has to be sent that you’re a public servant and you betrayed the trust of the public,” Hinkfuss said. “That’s what you did. And it just wasn’t over a two-week period of time, it was over 14 months.”
Since the initial charges were brought forward, the village has enacted practices to prevent future cash mishandling, such as changes to fine-tune the accounting software, elimination of manual entries, and routine and detailed reports to the village’s finance director and municipal judge.
The village has also installed a camera aimed at the cash handling area of the municipal court office.
Additional restitution amounts have been brought forth by the Village of Bellevue and its insurance agency, which total more than $20,000 in claims of lost funds stemming from Kreuser’s tenure at the village, which started in 2003.
The village’s insurance company has 60 days after the sentencing to bring forward additional restitution charges, as well as evidence to prove further theft beyond a reasonable doubt.