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By LeAnn R. Ralph
CHIPPEWA FALLS — A 50-year-old Wheeler woman has been accused of debit card fraud, resulting in the loss of $40,000 from a bank account belonging to a resident at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls.
Nola M. Tyrrell is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Chippewa County Circuit Court before Judge Steven R. Cray August 11 on seven felonies.
Judge Steven H. Gibbs set bail with a $5,000 signature bond at a bail hearing June 23.
Tyrrell is charged with one felony count of theft by false representation in an amount between $10,000 and $100,000 and six felony counts of misappropriating identity information to obtain money.
According to the criminal complaint, on June 9, a social worker at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls reported she had assisted a resident with requesting a debit card for his Marine Credit Union bank account, and while doing so, reviewed the resident’s Navy Federal Credit Union bank statement and noticed several fraudulent transactions.
The resident has lived at the Veterans Home since June of 2014, and the social worker has been employed there since July of 2017.
The social worker told a police officer with the Chippewa Falls Police Department that the Navy Federal Credit Union had told her a debit card had been requested for the resident’s account in April of 2018, and the card had been sent to the Veterans Home, according to the complaint.
The resident said he did not remember asking for the debit card and that he did not recall receiving the debit card.
An investigator with the Chippewa Falls Police Department reviewed the Navy Federal Credit Union statements on June 11. All together, the resident at the Veterans Home had suffered a loss of $40,516.84 through fraudulent transactions from November 29, 2019, through May 4, 2020.
According to the criminal complaint, the losses were $5,019.44 from November 25, 2019, to December 12, 2019; $9,751.23 from December 13, 2019, to January 8, 2020; $7,605.99 from January 13, 2020, to February 11, 2020; $6,430.13 from February 18, 2020, to March 11, 2020; $7,861.51 from March 16, 2020, to April 9, 2020; and $3,893.54 from April 13, 2020, to May 4, 2020.
The investigator confirmed with the social worker that the resident did not have a debit card for the account, did not recall applying for a debit card and did not have any bills or other expenses paid from the account, the complaint states.
The social worker told the investigator Navy Federal Credit Union had indicated the debit card had been applied for by telephone and had been mailed to the Veterans Home.
The investigator contacted Walmart in Menomonie where a $361.72 transaction had occurred on March 31, 2020, and received four still photographs, a photocopy of a receipt and a DVD containing video surveillance of the transaction, according to the complaint.
The investigator e-mailed the photographs to the director of maintenance and security at the Veterans Home. The director of maintenance and security called later to say five people who worked at the facility had identified the woman in the still photographs as a former employee named Nola Tyrrell, who had an address in Wheeler in Dunn County.
The director of maintenance and security said Tyrrell had worked at the Veterans Home from July 12, 2019, through April 27, 2020.
The investigator requested a Department of Transportation photograph and confirmed that the DOT photograph of Tyrrell matched the still photographs provided by Walmart, according to the complaint.
The investigator contacted Walmart in Menomonie again, where a $375.54 transaction had occurred on April 19 of this year.
The investigator received four still photographs of the suspect vehicle and the suspect who completed the transaction, and the investigator identified the woman as Tyrrell and the vehicle as Tyrrell’s red 2015 Jeep Cherokee.
The investigator called the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department on June 18 and learned that Tyrrell had been a suspect in fraud, forgery, uttering and using multiple aliases at financial institutions in 2000 and 2004, according to the complaint.
The next day, the investigator completed two subpoenas for Citizens Community Federal Bank in Eau Claire and WESTconsin Credit Union in Chippewa Falls.
Fraudulent ATM withdrawals had taken place at Citizens Community Bank on March 18, March 30, April 14 and April 28 in the amount of $602 for each withdrawal.
The investigator received three videos from Citizens Community Federal Bank and identified Tyrrell as conducting the transactions as the lone occupant driving her red Jeep, according to the complaint.
Two investigators from the Chippewa Falls Police Department went to Glenwood City on June 22 in an attempt to interview Tyrrell, who was employed at the Glenhaven nursing home.
The investigators made contact with Tyrrell at Glenhaven, and Tyrrell agreed to voluntarily come to the Glenwood City Police Department for an interview, according to the complaint.
Tyrrell told the investigators she had started working at the Wisconsin Veterans Home as a “float” between two of the housing units, but eventually became a full-time employee at one of those units.
When investigators told Tyrrell about the resident who was reporting that he had money missing from his account, Tyrrell said the resident had lived in the unit where she worked but that she had never borrowed any money from him, although the resident had asked her to write out a check on his behalf, which he had signed.
The investigators asked about the purchases at Walmart, and Tyrrell said if it was regarding the use of the resident’s debit card around November of 2019, he had asked her to use the card to purchase items for him that were for his son.
Tyrrell agreed with investigators that it was unusual for a nurse to purchase items with a client’s debit card, the complaint states.
When investigators asked about ATM withdrawals with the resident’s debit card, Tyrrell said she had not made any withdrawals.
Investigators showed Tyrrell a photograph of herself at the ATM, and Tyrrell said the picture did not look at all like her.
When investigators showed Tyrrell two additional photographs from the ATM withdrawals on March 17, Tyrrell said the two additional pictures were of her but still maintained it was not her in the first picture.
The investigators informed Tyrrell the photographs were all from the same day, and Tyrrell appeared red in the face and emotional with watery eyes and pursed the lips, according to the complaint.
Investigators placed all of the still pictures on the desk obtained through the surveillance videos from Citizens Community Federal and Walmart, and Tyrrell responded, “Yup, that’s me.”
Tyrrell told investigators the resident had given her his “red” debit card and PIN number and claimed the resident had asked her to pick up items on two different occasions at Walmart in Chippewa Falls.
The other purchases on the list, Tyrrell said, “were mine,” according to the complaint.
Tyrrell admitted to investigators she had taken ATM withdrawals from WESTconsin Credit Union in Chippewa Falls and Menomonie.
Investigators asked how much money she had withdrawn each time, and Tyrrell replied that it was “$600 or less.”
Tyrrell also admitted to investigators she had completed ATM withdrawals using the stolen debit card at Citizens Community Federal in Eau Claire and admitted to using the debit card at Walmart, Kwik Trip and the Turtle Lake Casino, the complaint states.
Tyrrell told investigators no other person was involved and that she had completed all of the transactions herself. With the stolen money, Tyrrell said, she had purchased items for herself.
Investigators asked where the debit card is now, and Tyrrell said she had put the debit card in the wood stove at her home about a month earlier.
When investigators asked why she had put the stolen debit card into the wood stove, Tyrrell said “she felt guilty,” according to the complaint.
Investigators asked Tyrrell if she knew how much money she had taken from the Veterans Home resident, and Tyrrell replied she had “no idea.”
When investigators said the amount was over $40,000 based on the bank account statements for the past six months, Tyrrell had responded, “holy crap” but did not show any remorse, according to the complaint.
Investigators arrested Tyrrell and transported her to the Chippewa County Jail, where she waived her rights and agreed to speak with them.
One single transaction was legitimate, Tyrrell said, and confirmed she had completed the remainder of the $40,000 in transactions, the complaint states.
Theft by false representation of an amount between $10,000 and $100,000 is a Class G felony that, upon conviction, carries a possible penalty of a fine of up to $25,000 and/or 10 years in prison.
Identity theft for financial gain is a Class H felony that, upon conviction, carries a possible penalty of a fine of up to $10,000 and/or six years in prison.