Ashippun Zion Lutheran Church says parishioner took $200,000
Town of Ashipppun - Zion Lutheran Church issued a statement Friday afternoon that parishioner Jim Schlieve admitted to taking around $200,000 from an endowment fund.
The Rev. Bob Thays said he is unable to disclose how the church found out Schlieve had taken the money or how long he had been doing so because the matter is under investigation by the Dodge County Sheriff's Department. No charges have been filed against Schlieve.
On Jan. 20, the church had an informational meeting to inform the congregation Schlieve acknowledged to taking the money. The statement says that in a letter to the congregation Schlieve said he took the money to pay his personal bills. "He said he acted alone without the knowledge of even his wife. He apologized to the congregation and said he was working to repay the money from his 401K," read the statement.
Thays said handling the finances for the endowment fund that is used to help pay the pastor's housing expenses and for charitable endeavors, is a volunteer job that Schlieve had taken on.
News broke that Schlieve had admitted to taking the money after the Ashippun Town Board called a special meeting to discuss concerns there could be money missing from the town because Schlieve's wife, Vickie, is the town clerk. Officials said Vickie Schlieve would often bounce financial questions off her husband, and that he regularly attended Town Board meetings.
However, after an initial audit, Town Chairman Steve Panozzo said there is no reason to believe there is anything missing. The town will still consider spend the money for a more thorough audit at its February meeting.
Both Vickie and Jim Schlieve have declined to comment on the matter.
Thays said the church is saddened by the matter. He said there will be an annual business meeting on Feb. 10 and parishioners have even asked if Schlieve can gain clemency if he pays the money back. He said that will be discussed at the Feb. 10 meeting.
"The congregation’s reaction was one of shock and sadness and deep concern for Jim and his family. Pastor Thays has reached out to the Schlieve family on behalf of the congregation," concluded the church statement.
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