Wisconsin Staffer Confined for $44,000 Theft

Dane County (Wis.) Circuit Judge David Flanagan ordered union embezzler, H. Jeannine Selvaag, to spend 60 days in jail Nov. 15 after she was convicted of stealing $44,259 from the S. Cent. (Wis.) Fed’n of Labor. However, that time is expected to be spent outside the jail on an electronic monitoring bracelet in accordance with a plea agreement. Flanagan also sentenced her to 7 years of probation. Selvaag, who was SCFL’s bookkeeper for about 30 years, pled no contest Nov. 15 to state criminal law charges of theft by bailee and failure to file a 1999 state income tax return.

Selvaag told state police she used the money, taken from SCFL bank accounts, for gambling, drinking, and house payments. She stole the money from SCFL bank accounts in 1998-99, including proceeds from the SCFL’s Labor Day picnic, according to a May 22 criminal complaint. Selvaag told police that she took the picnic cash, put it in her freezer, and used most of it for gambling. She said that in 1998-99 she gambled several days a week and drank heavily.

Flanagan said he expects that she will continue treatment for gambling addiction and will seek alcohol and drug treatment. “This is an awful lot of money,” Flanagan said of the missing $44,259. “It was taken from a fund created by the contributions of people who work hard.” Although Flanagan ordered full restitution, Asst. Dist. Atty. Ann Sayles said she thought it unlikely that Selvaag, at her age (69), would ever fully repay the money.

The crime came to light in Dec. 1999 after it was found that some of SCFL’s bills had not been paid. Later, SCFL found an apparent pattern of missing funds. At that time, she allegedly admitted to SCFL that she took less than $4,000 over the preceding months. She was then fired. A Madison accounting firm then found $39,254 missing from three SCFL accounts. Much of the money taken consisted of checks cashed with Selvaag’s hand-written endorsement. Some was also taken as cash at the time funds were deposited. [Wis. State J. 11/16, 5/23/01]