A Mauston man faces criminal charges after police say he kept money intended for funeral trusts.
Steve Mitchell, 52, is charged with seven counts of theft in a business setting, and three counts of misdemeanor theft. He faces up to 10 years imprisonment for each charge of theft in a business setting ove over $10,000, up to six years imprisonment for each charge of theft in a business setting between $5,000 and $10,000 and up to nine months imprisonment for each charge of misdemeanor theft.
According to the criminal complaint:
The Wonewoc Police department were informed Oct. 18 of concerns regarding the Thompson Funeral Home in Wonewoc, formerly owned by Mitchell. Bookkeeping was reportedly “minimal on paper and raised question(s) and required answers from Mitchell.”
One of the primary concerns was a “large gap of a small number of funeral trusts between the years of 2013 and 2017.” Mitchell owned the funeral home at that time.
The police were informed six individuals called requesting checks on their trusts but records were not kept, making it difficult for the funeral home to verify the trusts. Some individuals had to bring their own copies of the paperwork in to the funeral home to update records and prove the existence of their trusts.
An individual at the Heritage Manor Nursing Home in Elroy signed a check of $5,000 and another of $1,000 but no certificate of deposit was made with the bank for the irrevocable trust. “The money is not accounted for at this time and no record found within the funeral home.”
A Hillsboro resident whose husband passed away over the last year. The widow stated she was worried about the account, and no record was found to be kept of the $8,600 trust agreement she made with Mitchell. The widow “did not consent to Steve Mitchell keeping the money meant for the trust.”
The son of a deceased couple came turned in a check to the police for $20,592 written to the Thompson Funeral they signed. The back of the check was printed for deposit only and “matches the deposit slip in Mitchell’s files.” No trust certificate of deposit had been kept in the couple’s’ name. The couple did not receive a receipt and reportedly reached out to Mitchell who never provided them with the necessary documents.
Several other individuals reported similar experiences with Mitchell and the Thompson Funeral Home during the time he owned it. An individual turned over documents from the funeral home to the Wonewoc Police Department pertaining to “potential victims of fraud.”
Mitchell is not currently in the Juneau County Jail. His initial appearance in court is scheduled for April 25 at the Juneau County Justice Center.
If you feel you have been affected, contact Wonewoc Police Chief Julie Ott at 608-464-3114.