WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- A Wausau woman charged with embezzling more than $470,000, over a five-and-a-half year span from a Stevens Point-based architectural firm has pleaded not guilty.
Kristin Lapree, 51, is charged with theft in a business setting over $100,000, forgery, fraudulent writings, and identity theft for financial gain. All four charges are felonies.
Court documents show that Lapree worked as a business manager at Rettler Corporation, a company that specializes in landscape architecture, from February 2012 until she was terminated in August 2018.
Lapree was responsible for paying business related expenses, recording receipts, and preparing and making business banking deposits.
According to the criminal complaint, Lapree began forging checks to herself and her credit card accounts from the company's business checking account in December 2012.
Rettler Corporation was sold to a new owner in April 2017. In August 2018, the company's owner began noticing issues with the company's checking account. What followed was an investigation that found Lapree had been forging checks for personal gain for more than five-and-a-half-years. The forged checks totaled $473,012.20.
In a recorded phone conversation with the company's owner, Lapree admitted to stealing the money, according to the criminal complaint. She said she did it because she was in credit card debt, she was struggling to pay for her kids' rent, and she was desperate. Lapree also admitted to using her boss' signature to create a rubber stamp to sign off on her fraudulent checks.
Stevens Point investigators obtained a copy of Lapree's credit card history. The account was paid for mainly through the funds stolen from Rettler Corporation.
Some of the more substantial items purchased include: a leather sofa, two leather chairs, a leather ottoman, two Apple MacBook Pro computers, a 43 inch flat screen television, a Louis Vuitton purse, wallet, carrying bag and perfume set. Other purchases included hotel and airfare for out-of-state trips, rent for her child's apartment and catering for a large party.
Lapree's Wausau residence was searched by Stevens Point and Wausau police officers on Oct. 9. Almost all of the items listed on Lapree's credit card history were found and seized.
She's free on a $25,000 signature bond.