Delavan woman gets probation in Lakeshore Equine embezzlement case

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Jonah Beleckis
Monday, October 16, 2017

ELKHORN—A Delavan woman who once worked for Lakeshore Equine Services was sentenced to serve a year of probation for embezzling money from a Darien veterinarian, court records show.

A condition of Heidi A. Kuhnke's probation is to pay $169,728.86 in restitution, although that part of the plea agreement might not be finalized for a couple weeks, according to court records of the Oct. 11 sentencing hearing.

Walworth County Judge Kristine Drettwan imposed and stayed a nine-month jail sentence with work release if Kuhnke violates her probation. Other conditions of Kuhnke's probation include maintaining full-time employment and not having contact with the victim or the business, court records show.

Kuhnke in August pleaded no contest to a reduced misdemeanor theft charge, per a plea agreement. She was accused of embezzling money between June 2006 and March 2010.

Walworth County Judge David Reddy in March 2016 granted an attorney's motion to order the filing of a criminal complaint against Kuhnke after Walworth County prosecutors repeatedly declined to prosecute the case.

Waukesha County District Attorney Susan L. Opper prosecuted the criminal case.

A jury from a 2015 civil suit found Kuhnke responsible for the thefts, but Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo said she declined to prosecute the case because of lack of evidence and credibility issues with the business owner, Andrea McGowan Zillmer, who spoke at Kuhnke's sentencing last week.

Bret Achtenhagen, who owns Bret Achtenhagen's Seasonal Services in Mukwonago, submitted a letter to the court speaking to the character of Kuhnke, with whom he has worked for six years. He praised her customer service and her willingness to take on larger roles within the job.

“It is my heartfelt belief that Heidi has proven to be an exemplary employee, coworker, student, friend and mother,” the letter states. “I am blessed to have Heidi on my team and I trust her wholly, unconditionally and without reservation.”

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