If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — Former Boyceville EMS Chief Matthew J. Feeney has pleaded “no contest” in Dunn County Circuit Court to one misdemeanor charge related to bookkeeping for the Boyceville Community Ambulance Service.
Feeney appeared June 11 before Judge John F. Manydeeds, an Eau Claire County Circuit Court judge who was assigned to the Dunn County case.
Feeney initially was charged with two misdemeanor counts of fraudulent data alteration and theft in a business setting of less than $2,500.
As part of a plea agreement, the judge did not accept Feeney’s plea of “no contest” to the misdemeanor charge of fraudulent data alteration, but instead, accepted a Deferred Acceptance of a Guilty Plea agreement (DAGP) and scheduled a deferred prosecution agreement hearing for December 13, according to online court records.
Judge Manydeeds also dismissed the second misdemeanor count of theft in a business setting of less than $2,500 but ordered it read into the court record.
A deferred prosecution agreement and a DAGP, under Wisconsin law, allows someone facing charges to enter into an agreement with the court to uphold certain conditions in return for charges that are reduced or dismissed, according to several online sources.
Feeney and his attorney, Matthew Krische, appeared in court by video.
The case originally had been scheduled to go to trial in May.
According to the criminal complaint, a detective with the Barron County Sheriff’s Department met with Feeney on November 12, 2019.
The detective told Feeney someone with the Boyceville ambulance service had discovered purchase orders that had been submitted to the ambulance district board that appeared not to match the ambulance district’s credit card usage.
The detective reviewed the documents and noticed transactions that seemed inconsistent with the purchase orders and what was on the ambulance service credit card statements.
Some of the items included casual clothing at online stores, Amazon purchases, transactions at a local bar in Boyceville, and purchases from the City of New Richmond during 2019.
The new purchase orders showed more itemization and had notes indicating Feeney had repaid the ambulance district for the credit card charges since the October of 2019 meeting of the Boyceville ambulance service board.
The detective reviewed the purchase orders to figure out which ones Feeney had changed and observed changes for March of 2018 and for January, February, March, April and May of 2019 as well as August, September and October of 2019. The revised purchase orders indicated there was payment by “1300” which was Feeney’s badge number at the ambulance district, according to the complaint.
Feeney and his attorney met with the detective November 20, 2019.
Feeney said he was hired in June of 2010 as the ambulance service chief and was hired to “fix” the ambulance service. In 2016, after the clerk-treasurer for the ambulance district died, Feeney took over the financial responsibilities for the ambulance district. Feeney said the ambulance district did not have any credit card policies when he took over as chief but that he had enacted policies.
One policy was that if a credit card was used for personal purchases, the purchase was to be paid back to the ambulance district, although there was no timeframe for paying back the ambulance district, the complaint states.
Feeney said the ambulance district board knew about the policy, and that the reason he had been questioned was because of new members on the ambulance district board. The credit card bill comes to Feeney and his wife, and Feeney’s personal credit was used to obtain a credit card for the ambulance district, according to the complaint.
One of the revised purchase orders for February of 2019, for example, showed Feeney had reimbursed the ambulance district for $62.39 for a “welcome back party.” The March of 2019 revised purchase order showed Feeney had reimbursed $60. The original purchase order was in the amount of $131.18 for a Microsoft Word suite monthly charge, but the revised order showed a charge of $71.18, and Feeney said the $60 was most likely iTunes, according to the complaint.
In April of 2019, the original purchase order showed $463.72 for office supplies, but the revised purchase order listed office supplies in the amount of $234.62 and that Feeney paid back $299.10. Feeney said the amount was for Audible and Amazon. The May of 2019 purchase order shows Feeney reimbursed $90.64 worth of diesel fuel, the complaint states.
The detective confirmed with Feeney that everything had been paid back.
Checks listed in the complaint showed Feeney had written out five checks totaling a little over $1,600.
The detective reviewed the reimbursement checks Feeney had written and asked if there would be a single reimbursement check for 2018. Feeney said reimbursement checks written in September and October of 2019 covered all personal purchases going back to January of 2016 when the credit card was first used.
When the detective asked why Feeney would go back four years to pay for purchases now, Feeney “blamed it on laziness on his part.” Feeney said he did not think it was an issue because he was still employed by the ambulance service and said he wanted “to get things taken care of prior to the 2020 budget to have a fresh start,” according to the complaint.
Feeney told the detective if he wanted to take money, “he could cash the bonus checks from the credit card purchases.”
In a bag of shredded paper the detective had received, he found pieces of credit card that had the names of four individuals, one of which was Matthew Feeney. The credit cards were Spark business cards, and under each name on each card was included “BCVL CMNT AMBLNC DST,” the complaint states.
“Spark” refers to Capitol One Spark for Business cards, which pay a one-time $500 cash bonus after spending $4,500 within three months of opening the credit cards.
Feeney formerly worked as a deputy for the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department.
By October of 2019, Feeney was employed as a police officer with the New Richmond Police Department.