181011_EMBEZZ

The former general manager of two newspaper publishing companies based in Delavan, including one that prints such papers as the Elkhorn Independent, the Delavan Enterprise and the Whitewater Register, will make her initial appearance in court next week after she was accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employers.

ELKHORN

The former general manager of two newspaper publishing companies based in Delavan will make her initial appearance in Walworth County Court next week on charges that she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cynthia R. Jensen owes almost $275,000 to Southern Lakes Publishing and Rock Valley Publishing, according to the criminal complaint.

The co-owners and brothers Peter and John Cruger told police an internal audit confirmed by an outside accounting firm reached that figure—$243,078 to Southern Lakes and $30,913 to Rock Valley—after Jensen had already written the owners a check for nearly $100,000.

Jensen’s initial court appearance is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Jensen, 55, of Kingston, Illinois, was charged Sept. 25 with seven counts of identity theft for financial gain and two counts of theft in a business setting of more than $10,000. All counts are felonies charged as party to the crime.

Jensen last week told the Daily Chronicle of DeKalb, Illinois, she has “never stolen anything.”

Southern Lakes Newspapers publishes newspapers throughout Walworth County, such as the Delavan Enterprise, Elkhorn Independent and Whitewater Register. Rock Valley Publishing does the same for newspapers in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Both companies are based in Delavan.

The Crugers on July 13 told police a bank employee alerted them in January to possibly fraudulent signatures on seven checks from last November, December and January for a combined $18,235, according to the complaint. The checks were made out to Jensen and her husband, but John Cruger denied signing them.

Some of the suspicious transactions the Crugers reviewed went back to May 2015. That same year, Jensen opened CJ’s Gaming, a slot machine gaming business in Illinois, the complaint states.

The Crugers found payments from the gaming business to the newspaper companies, which they believed was an attempt to pay money back.

In February, the Crugers met with Jensen and recorded the conversation. In that conversation, Jensen said she did not believe she had done anything illegal and had paid back everything with interest, according to the complaint.

The next month, Jensen left abruptly and later wrote them a check for nearly $100,000, the complaint states. She wanted them to sign a document saying the money she took was a loan.

On June 12, the Crugers sent a letter to Jensen asking for the remaining money, including payment for fees and interest, according to the complaint.

The letter asked for the money by June 30, but the brothers never heard back, the complaint states. They then went to the police.

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