Man pleads responsible to stealing cash supposed for disabled kid’s mission | Entrance Web page
EAU CLAIRE – The owner of a former Eau Claire construction and remodeling company has a year to repay the stolen money used to remodel a disabled child’s bathroom.
Douglas H. Von Eschen, 37, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to the Eau Claire County Court of theft in a business setting Monday.
Under a one-year postponed agreement with prosecutors, Von Eschen is fined $ 250 and a refund of $ 13,550. Ten thousand dollars must be paid within the next three months, with the remainder due by July 2022.
Von Eschen cannot commit any new crimes either and has to do 40 hours of community service.
If Von Eschen wins the deal, the crime charge will be dismissed.
According to the criminal complaint:
An employee of the Eau Claire County Department of Human Services informed Eau Claire police in December that Energy Performance, which was owned by Von Eschen, had an offer to renovate a residential bathroom for a disabled child in an Eau in May 2020 Claire residency.
The employee said the total cost of the project was about $ 24,000 and DHS made a down payment of $ 12,300 to Energy Performance in June 2020.
The employee said that work on the project should start immediately. However, her department’s last contact with Von Eschen was in June 2020.
The employee said she left several messages over the phone and email to Energy Performance but received no response.
The employee said she learned that Von Eschen now lives in Las Vegas. She left him phone messages but none were returned.
After reviewing the district documents, a police detective learned that the family whose bathroom would be remodeled under the Long Term Child Support Program had chosen Energy Performance.
According to the program requirements, the money had to be used in 2020.
The family was told that the contractor, Von Eschen, would contact them to arrange an appointment.
The von Eschen family had called to arrange a meeting, but did not show up.
On August 4, the district employee was contacted by the former Energy Performance office manager, who said she believed von Eschen had moved to Nevada and plans to operate his business from that location.
The next day, the former office manager said that Energy Performance’s local business office was closed and the building was up for sale. She said that subcontractors who were hired by Eschen on other projects were not paid for their completed work.
The district clerk learned that von Eschen had a small claims case against him and that the address given for him was in Las Vegas.
The detective checked Energy Performance’s financial records. A checking account found that Von Eschen was the owner and sole signatory of the account.
Before the $ 12,300 deposit was paid, the account was only $ 1,606. Two weeks after the deposit was paid, the account showed a negative balance.
In the two weeks after the DHS check was paid in, several transactions were made from the energy performance account. That included $ 3,900 in mortgage payments and $ 4,500 in payments to a treatment clinic in Las Vegas.
There appeared to be some transactions for building materials, but it was clear from at least one of the transactions that it was a different project.
Von Eschen didn’t answer the detective’s calls either.