New Glarus, WI- A Belleview, Wisconsin woman is facing numerous charges after police allege she stole $850,000 from a New Glarus nursing home in a sophisticated scheme that fooled auditors and was almost missed by a forensic accountant.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Joyce Ziehli was charged with six counts of theft in a business setting. The criminal complaint states Ziehli stole $850,000 from New Glarus Home Inc. over a 10 year-period and believes it went on much longer, but due to the statute of limitations and lack of proper accounting at one bank, police could only charge her for the recent thefts.
Ziehli, 55, worked as a bookkeeper and administrative secretary for the nursing home for over 31 years. It was her position as bookkeeper that afforded her the opportunity to steal such a large sum of money, which came from insurance payments the home received after giving medical care to residents
Police say Ziehli would take the insurance payments and would, on occasion, record the amounts received as less than the actual check amount. She would take the checks to the bank, never going to the same bank twice in one day, and pocketed a portion of the actual check amount.
According to Rick Colby, who took over as New Glarus Home director last September, Ziehli’s scheme was virtually undetectable. Each year the home had two separate accounting firms conduct audits on their books, but the auditors never detected the theft.
It was only after the home began using new accounting software that Ziehli’s scheme was detected. Another bookkeeper for the home noticed that the figures were not adding up. Colby told the Wisconsin State Journal that a forensic accountant working with the FBI said this was one of the most sophisticated embezzlement schemes he has encountered.
Ziehli would use a number of methods to transfer the stolen money to her personal accounts at several banks. She would take the checks to the bank, never going to the same teller on consecutive days in so that she would not send up any red flags.
The money was used to fund a free Bluegrass music magazine she and her husband ran together. He husband said he assumed the large amount of extra cash they used for the magazine came from a retirement account she cashed out.
Ziehli was fired three days after the New Glarus home hired a forensic accountant.
Ziehli did not steal any money from the personal accounts nursing home residents, but fraud of this magnitude resulted in a great deal of loss for the nursing home.
Recently, USA Today reported on widespread financial fraud in nursing homes across the country. In many of those cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from the personal accounts of nursing home residents. In most of these cases, the residents were able to recover their stolen funds because the accounts were insured.
Each year, seniors are conned out of billions of dollars each year by unscrupulous family members, businesses and nursing home employees.