Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider: Former guardian could face new charges (WI)

APPLETON — Outagamie County Dist. Atty. Carrie Schneider may file additional charges against Jeffrey M. Schend, a former Appleton guardian accused of stealing about $500,000 from elderly and disabled clients he was appointed to serve.

Meanwhile, an exhaustive investigation continues into every financial transactions Schend made while acting as a corporate guardian.

Schneider declined comment on any new findings in the case or the nature of new charges she’s considering.

Outagamie County Judge Gregory Gill Jr. this past week canceled a weeklong jury trial that was scheduled to begin in March. It is the third time Schend’s trial has been delayed. Schend will return to court March 12 for a status conference.

Defense attorney Michael Petersen, in a letter to the court Thursday, said a forensic accountant hired by prosecutors to comb through records hasn’t completed a report.

“Once it is completed, or a draft is created, it is both DA Schneider’s and my intention to meet with the accountant and review the results,” he wrote. “Therefore, it appears the trial date as presently set is not practical.”

Schend, 45, was charged in May with six felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor theft count. As a guardian, Schend was appointed by county judges to handle finances for elderly and disabled people deemed incompetent to manage their own affairs.

An investigation began after county officials started receiving complaints in late 2010 that client bills weren’t being paid.

The county hired attorney Douglas Hahn to review the finances of four of Schend’s clients — legally referred to as wards — to look for inconsistencies.

One of Schend’s clients was missing nearly $168,000 from a trust fund. The money was transferred to one of Schend’s business accounts at Associated Bank, records show. Schend had two accounts at the bank at the time of Hahn’s review. One was overdrawn. One contained just $126.

Based on the elderly man’s cost of living, there should have been about $110,000 available, records stated.

One of Schend’s former employees told police Schend boasted about traveling first-class and took one or two expensive vacations each year. She said he owned a boat and a Mercedes-Benz that he later traded for a Cadillac.

Another former employee said Schend gambled often, bought watches and clothes frequently and had his home remodeled. At the end of 2010, the employee said, she started taking calls from people complaining his business was not paying its bills.

Subpoena records highlight the painstaking efforts taken by police to uncover financial malfeasance on Schend’s part since he first contracted with Outagamie County in 2004.

Appleton police last year subpoenaed financial institutions demanding “any accounts or records” connected to Schend and his business “in whole or in part” dating back to Jan. 1, 2004.

“An examination of all bank records is needed to determine the path of all monies transferred from each ward and where those funds were cashed, deposited or transferred to,” the subpoenas stated.

Police weren’t specific regarding the number of documents obtained in many of the subpoenas.

In one, police obtained 345 pages of documents detailing deposits, withdrawals, monthly statements and checks written spanning eight separate accounts, records show.

Schend was initially scheduled to go to trial in September, but it was delayed due to the appointment of the forensic accountant.

Based on that delay, Schend — who had previously filed a speedy trial demand — was released from jail on bond.

The trial was then scheduled for January, but was moved again during a November hearing.


Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider: Former guardian could face new charges
Jeffrey Schend already accused of stealing $500,000 from elderly, disabled
Jim Collar
February 4, 2012
Appleton Post-Crescent