Joel Wagner took liberties with his union expense account once too often. On January 16, Wagner, treasurer of the Dane County Sheriff’s Association, was charged in Wisconsin state circuit court with two counts of theft and six counts of misrepresentation in the disappearance of about $10,000 in funds from the Madison-based union. Though Wagner had retired from the sheriff’s office early last year, the association had begun to probe his handling of finances in 2016. Wagner’s lawyer, Chris Van Wagner, says that Wagner is prepared to reimburse the union for “every dime that he had taken.”
According to the complaint, Joel Wagner, now 54, a resident of Sun Prairie, Wisc., engaged in acts of theft between sometime in 2011 and May 2016. By the latter year, after leaving his union post, union leaders had grown suspicious. Wagner’s successor, Greg Leatherberry, along with union president John Cahill, asked Wagner several times for verification of expense claim sheets. Wagner, however, rebuffed or misled them each time. In response, Cahill went to Wagner’s sheriff’s office supervisor, who in turn ordered Wagner to furnish the records. The evidence was damning. On numerous occasions, Wagner had reimbursed himself for trips not taken, skimmed money from union-sponsored events, and used his union credit card for personal purchases. The offenses added up to roughly $10,000. Wagner’s lawyer describes his client as “exceedingly remorseful and embarrassed.” That should be a plus come sentencing.