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NWTF treasurer guilty of embezzlement

Editor’s note: This article appears with permission from
the Dodgeville Chronicle.

Dodgeville, Wis. – An Avoca woman will spend one year in jail
for embezzling at least $19,000 from the Wisconsin Chapter of the
National Wild Turkey Federation while she served the organization
as treasurer.

Dianne L. Naatz, 34, was found guilty on one felony count and
four misdemeanor counts in Iowa County Circuit Court. She was
placed on probation for five years on each count and had a
four-year state prison sentenced imposed and stayed. She also will
serve four years on extended supervision.

Naatz was ordered to pay $21,538 on the felony count and $88 on
each of the misdemeanor counts. In total, Naatz must reimburse the
NWTF State Chapter $21,890.

Naatz was originally charged with seven misdemeanor counts and
one felony count. According to the criminal complaint, Naatz
embezzled amounts of $1,000, $1,500, $250, $1,500, $2,000, $200,
and $170 on the misdemeanor counts, and $13,300 on the felony
count, a total of $19,900.

State chapter officials say an investigation also is continuing
in Jefferson County, and that as much as $75,000 could be
missing.

‘It’s an unfortunate situation that took place. We dealt with
it, the legal system prevailed, and it will make the NWTF at the
state level a stronger and better organization,’ said Scott Maves,
of Oregon, the NWTF state chapter vice president. ‘It’s a full
voluntary position and she (Naatz) volunteered. We’re in the
process of taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen
again.’

Maves said Greg Shermo, of Green Bay, will be the new state
treasurer.

‘When we found out that something was awry, we went to Iowa
County authorities and they did an investigation,’ Maves said.

What happened?

The path Naatz took through the embezzlement to her sentencing
was long and winding, involving a career change, deceit, lies, and
a new relationship, records show.

The embezzlement report was taken March 29, 2006. After
interviews were conducted with the NWTF board and the suspect,
Naatz was arrested June 7, 2006.

The Wisconsin Chapter of NWTF started receiving complaints in
October 2005 that vendors were not receiving payments for money
owed. State chapter officers spoke to Naatz about the timeliness of
checks being sent out and it seemed to get better. The complaints
started to surface again in January and February of last year.

The directors of the Wisconsin chapter set a meeting March 4,
2006, and told Naatz to bring all the financial records. Naatz then
sent word she could not attend because of an out-of-town funeral
for her roommate’s grandmother. She said she would be gone for a
week.

Naatz then did not attend a March 12 board meeting. At that
meeting, the board agreed to ask for her resignation because of
bookkeeping concerns. Naatz agreed to resign and asked for a few
days to get the records in order. She indicated she would provide
the records on March 14.

But, March 14 came and went without records being delivered.

On March 17, Maves and his wife, Kathleen, who serves as
secretary of the Wisconsin chapter, went to Naatz’s residence to
get the records. When they inspected them, the records were
incomplete and there was nothing recorded for the past two years.
Questions surfaced regarding deposits shown but not deposited,
checks issued to Naatz by herself, and national chapter NWTF checks
not being deposited.

On June 6, Naatz was paid a visit by two Iowa County law
enforcement officials. She said she had written herself a $1,700
loan and intended to pay it back. She also said she showed a
$13,300 deposit in the checkbook register, but the money was put
into her personal account, which she intended to put into the
Wisconsin chapter’s account.

The officers then obtained subpoenas for the banks involved. The
records showed thousands of dollars were obtained from both the
local Jefferson County NWTF chapter and the NWTF state chapter.

On June 7, officers returned to serve an eviction notice. Naatz
was asked if she was willing to talk about the $13,300 not being in
her personal bank account as she had stated. Because she was being
evicted and the officers were not given information regarding the
whereabouts of the money, Naatz was arrested and booked into Iowa
County Jail on two counts of theft.

Naatz had served as treasurer for three years and told her
partner she became involved with the organization because her
father had been active in it. Because this was a new relationship,
her partner also helped with NWTF functions.

Naatz’s job as treasurer was to send fund-raising proceeds to
NWTF national headquarters in South Carolina. NWTF would hold the
money, with 56 percent of it going into a ‘superfund.’ State
chapters can request money out of the superfund for projects and
events. Naatz was then responsible for depositing the money into
the Wisconsin chapter’s checking account and making payments.

The chapter also received funds from state functions such as the
state convention, state raffle, and state calling contest.

The state chapter had been cautioned about Naatz’s practices the
fall before her arrest. After the state convention, Naatz moved
from Jefferson to Avoca because of personal issues.

More calls came in regarding non-payment of bills. One time
Scott Maves had called her about a past due bill and Naatz told him
she was walking to the mailbox when he called. Two weeks later the
vendor informed Maves the check wasn’t received.

The board later learned that Wisconsin chapter president Gregory
Shermo did not have his name on the checks, as had been originally
thought. Naatz’s name was the only one on the signature card.
Shermo recalled being on the previous checking account prior to a
change in banks. The board wanted to freeze the account, but was
told by the bank it could not be done because their names did not
appear on the account. A new account was then set up and the other
account was finally closed.

Later, Naatz was questioned about some deposits. She said she
had tried to wire the money but the account was closed. She then
said she had mailed the money to Maves’s post office box, but it
came back because she did not put on enough postage. Maves said no
money came to his post office box. Naatz twice indicated she had
tried to deposit money and sent it through the mail. She maintained
the deposits must have been lost.

When Naatz moved to the area she started a new job and was in a
relationship. She had met Jen King on-line and the two met and
started a relationship. Naatz, who has a bachelor of arts in social
work, had been working at Ethan Allen schools and King started a
job in the health care field. Naatz then quit her job at Ethan
Allen and told King she had tapped into her retirement fund for
money to live on. When things got hard financially, she talked
King, who had now taken the last name of Naatz, into moving to
Avoca where the cost of living was less.

After the move to Avoca, King asked Naatz about her money and
was told it was still her retirement money. She urged Naatz to take
a job at Rockwell in Richland Center.

Soon, Naatz told her family she needed money or she would have
to stop medical treatment and chemotherapy. Naatz had shown her
family a bill from Dean Clinic, but King later determined the bill
had been altered by Naatz on her computer. King also said she had
experience in health care and Naatz showed no signs of being
ill.

During questioning, King stated the couple had separate checking
accounts and she had knowledge of deposits made by Naatz. She also
said she had never seen any NWTF records.

The two have separated.

It also was determined the funeral Naatz had indicated she went
to when she missed a meeting was actually a weekend away with King.
King’s grandmother had died February of 2005, and not March of
2006.

Also during the investigation it was found that Naatz had sold
six items on E-bay. It is not known at this time if the items were
property of NWTF.

Wisconsin Outdoor News editor Dean Bortz contributed to this
report.

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