By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marathon County officials are investigating questionable accounting practices in the town of McMillan that date back to 2009 and involve a former clerk.
“Back in 2009-11, while I was on the town board, we had a clerk that was not working with the board real well,” explained Clarence Oertel. “So, then in 2011, the board decided to have a job description for her, which she refused to do. So, we had no choice but to dismiss her.”
In order to dismiss the then clerk-treasurer the town of McMillan was obligated to participate in a mediated hearing, which took place Feb. 24, 2011.
“When we did dismiss her, (Marathon) County contacted the town (of McMillan) with a name of a person that would help us out,” Oertel said. “So, Nancy Dittman came in to help us out. She was a treasurer for the town of Cassel in Marathon County, and she also worked with the County whenever tax time came along. She was highly recommended by the county treasurer.
“We hired her, and while she was our (interim) clerk, she discovered some bank accounts that the board did not know about. There were money orders being used for payments, and we did not know about it.
“State law says that every disbursement of the town money has to be board approved and the chairman has to sign the checks and this was not being done.”
Upon the discovery of the questionable accounts and money transactions, Oertel sought legal counsel. Upon recommendation, Oertel wrote a letter to the Marathon County District Attorney’s (DA) Office.
On August 20, 2012 a Marathon County detective was assigned to a case due to a request by Oertel and then McMillan board chair, Russ Weichelt, to look into the suspicious accounting activity, along with possible violations to the open records law.
That investigation resulted in no action by the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office or the DA; however, Oertel and others from the township still looked for answers on the hidden accounts and missing money order receipts.
“We are back to wanting to know this information, so we did some open records requests,” Oertel explained. “They will not respond.
“(The interim clerk) found some of the money orders — $11-12,000 worth of money orders. According to a report, that specific bank account number had $59,000 – almost $60,000 worth of money orders – and that is what we are asking for in the open records requests; and that is just one account. There were three accounts that (the previous clerk) was doing money orders out of.”
On behalf of the McMillan residents wanting more information on the accounts, town resident Dorothy Olson submitted several open records requests in 2016 – one on June 3, June 23, Sept. 12, and Oct. 7.
Stating that the requests had not been fulfilled, Olson contacted the Marathon County District Attorney’s Office.
On Dec. 12, 2017, Marathon County District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon, Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks, and Marathon County Corporation Counsel Scott Corbett met with McMillan’s current town chair and clerk. At that time, it was determined that the town had not turned over the requested records.
After multiple requests from McMillan residents, as well as current and former board members, the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office reviewed the matter and opened an investigation.
“The allegations received have been reviewed and warrants an investigation into some of the practices the Township has been doing,” said Marathon County Sheriff’s Captain Greg Bean.
Since it is an open investigation, Captain Bean stated that he was unable to release any more details until the investigation is complete.
“We’ve been trying to get this information since 2012,” Oertel added. “Two thousand people have the right to know.”