Delavan woman accused of embezzling $170,000 from horse veterinary business pleads not guilty

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Jonah Beleckis
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ELKHORN—A Delavan woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a theft charge filed by a special prosecutor after the Walworth County District Attorney's Office repeatedly declined to prosecute the case last year.

Heidi A. Kuhnke, of 3284 County O, Delavan, is charged with theft by employee. She is accused of embezzling $170,013.69 from Lakeshore Equine Services in Darien while she worked there, according to the criminal complaint filed March 21.

Kuhnke worked for Lakeshore from June 2006 until she was fired in March 2010. The thefts occurred between March 2007 and March 2010, according to the complaint.

The charge was filed by Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper, the special prosecutor appointed by Walworth County Judge David Reddy on April 11.

Kuhnke used a credit card that was issued to Lakeshore to obtain money, credit, goods and services, according to the complaint. She altered the credit card bills to show that payments were made to companies Lakeshore worked with rather than businesses where the credit card had been used, the complaint states. 

A jury from a 2015 civil suit found Kuhnke accountable for the thefts. However, Walworth County Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo said last year she declined to prosecute the case because of a lack of evidence and credibility issues with the business owner, Andrea McGowan Zillmer.

At a Nov. 28 motion hearing, Judge Kristine Drettwan denied a motion to dismiss and a motion to vacate the appointment of a special prosecutor, according to court records.

Court Commissioner Gerad Dougvillo ruled at a Dec. 19 preliminary hearing there was probable cause a felony had been committed.

Kuhnke is scheduled for a status conference at 1:15 p.m. March 16.

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