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Boyceville woman guilty of $48,000 EM bank theft

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE —  A 31-year-old Boyceville woman has pleaded no contest and has been found guilty of stealing $48,000 from Bremer Bank in Elk Mound.

Amber C. Goodell appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court May 13 with her attorney, William Laman.

Goodell was charged with one felony count of theft from a financial institution.

Judge William Stewart Jr. sentenced Goodell to three years of probation and 15 days in jail and also ordered her to complete 120 hours of community service and to pay restitution of $48,000.

Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki, the prosecutor in the case, asked that Goodell be sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The maximum penalty for a Class G felony is a $25,000 fine and/or ten years in prison.

Goodell was ready to pay $5,000 in restitution the day of court hearing, Laman said.

Goodell also has expressed remorse for stealing the money, has many letters of recommendation and has the support of her family, he said.

Goodell wrote a letter of apology to Bremer Bank in October and has been cooperative with the investigation, Laman said.

After serving the jail time, Goodell is planning to start her own organic household cleaning business, he said.

Goodell started working for Bremer Bank in December of 2003 and has no prior criminal record, Laman said.

The money Goodell took from the bank disappeared between Jan of 2010 and August of 2013.

“She is selling what she can on eBay to get money for restitution,” Laman said, adding that he was also asking for a stay on the jail time so that Goodell would not serve any time in jail.

When asked if she wanted to make a statement, Goodell offered her apologies to the court and to Bremer Bank for violating their trust as an employee.

Weeping, Goodell also said she wanted to apologize to her parents, her boyfriend and to her other friends.

She told the court she had stocks she could sell to put toward the restitution and that she planned to start an all-natural chemical-free cleaning business when she had finished serving her sentence.

Support

Judge Stewart noted that Goodell had “impressive support” from her family and friends.

All of the letters received by the court indicated that “they did not know what happened or who this is” because it did not seem to be the young woman they all knew, he said.

Judge Stewart said that he realized Goodell was bright because she’d had the ability to cover her tracks for three years, but that she was also deceitful, because it was a concentrated effort to steal money from the bank.

Judge Stewart said he also believed Goodell was remorseful and that she was taking responsibility for her actions.

Full restitution is $48,003, and Judge Stewart ordered Goodell to make monthly payments on the restitution starting in June.

A minimum wage full-time job would pay $14,000 per year, the judge noted.

Instead of 30 days in jail that Maki had requested, Judge Stewart sentenced Goodell to 15 days in jail.

In lieu of the additional 15 days of jail time, he ordered Goodell to complete 40 hours of community service for each of the three years she is on probation, for a total of 120 hours.

Judge Stewart ordered Goodell to report to the Dunn County Jail no later than 9 a.m. on May 27.

Federal Reserve

According to the complaint, two representatives from Bremer Bank had been conducting an internal investigation when they discovered that $48,000 had been embezzled by an employee at Bremer Bank’s location in Elk Mound.

When deputies asked Goodell to explain what had happened, Goodell said she had started stealing money from the bank several years ago, perhaps in 2010, and that she had started with smaller amounts and then had progressed to larger amounts until a total of $48,000 had been stolen.

Goodell told investigators she had removed the money from her cash drawer at the bank and had concealed the missing money by making false transactions with the bank’s vault.

Goodell also told investigators that she “pretty much knew she was caught” about a month earlier when she had created a fake transaction indicating that the missing money had been sold to the Federal Reserve.

According to a fact sheet provided by Bremer Bank, on August 30, a scheduled audit of all the teller drawers and the vault, in preparation for converting to a new teller system, revealed that all teller drawers and the bank vault balanced.

The criminal complaint goes on to say that on October 2, one of the tellers at Bremer Bank in Elk Mound received a telephone call from the bank’s accounting department regarding an entry made on August 30 in the amount of $48,000 for a “sell” of cash to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

The Federal Reserve did not have a match for the sale.