Burglary charge dropped, theft charge added in Mehlert case
Mehlert, 43, of 9136 N. Raven Drive, Milton, was in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing. She is accused of stealing money from Hope Lutheran Church, 335 Dairyland Drive, Milton, while she was a member of the church council.
Police say they caught her taking money out of donation bags and believe she might have been doing it since June. They believe she entered the church office with a key she was supposed to have returned, according to the criminal complaint.
The amended criminal complaint also addressed, for the first time, charges that Mehlert stole money from the church’s high school youth group while serving as director.
Sgt. Jim Schumacher with the Milton Police Department told The Janesville Gazette in November that the department was investigating the youth group account. He said Mehlert stole money by changing accounts in the register and writing checks out to cash.
According to the amended complaint, Mehlert recorded a check to Compassion International, an organization that sponsors overseas children, for $256 in November 2006, but she actually wrote the check to cash for $250.
The organization told Scott Wasemiller, church council president, that it hadn’t received a donation from Hope Lutheran Church since before Mehlert took over the youth group.
The complaint says Mehlert took a total of $1,043 from the youth group account.
Mehlert stood mute for both theft charges, and Court Commissioner Louis Mineau entered not guilty pleas. No date has been set for a trial.