Bookkeeper accused of swindling still is working as a city clerk

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ROSE CREEK — A woman charged for allegedly swindling money from three Mower County townships’ rural fire department fund is still actively working as the Rose Creek city clerk.

Janet Marie Nelsen, 57, of Rose Creek is still working in her role at the city hall. Nelsen, who answered the phone on Monday, declined to comment about the charges leveled against her last month in Mower County District Court. She faces felony charges of theft by transferring property with no consent, theft by swindle and theft by check.

Rose Creek Mayor Pete Kuhlmann declined to comment about Nelsen’s employment status or whether it will be addressed at a City Council meeting; however, he pointed out Nelsen’s issue is with the townships, not the city.

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According to the court complaint filed in January, Nelsen for years has been the bookkeeper for the Rural Fire Association. Windom, Nevada and Marshall townships form part of the association, as they compile $5,500 per year to couple with the Rose Creek Fire Department for a total of $11,000 toward the fund.

The Rose Creek fire chief last fall grew suspicious about the bookkeeping. According to the court complaint, that upset Nelsen. She later attended a township meeting and reportedly said, “Here, you guys take this,” and handed over the association’s checking account information and checks.

The Windom Township treasurer looked into the bookkeeping and said the records “were a mess” and said she was unable to find receipts and bank records. Furthermore, Nelsen, who was to receive $175 per year for keeping the association’s books, was reportedly paying herself more than once per year and putting checks in her husband’s bank account, as well.

At an emergency meeting with the Rose Creek mayor and township representatives, Nelsen admitted she had done something wrong and didn’t know how much money was missing.

According to the complaint, Nelsen told a detective her husband was having medical problems, so she had written herself unauthorized checks. According to the detective, Nelsen issued herself $525 in 2012, $650 in 2011, $275 in 2010, $500 in 2009, $835 in 2008 and $275 in 2007. Those investigating the issue were unable to find bank records before 2007.

Nelsen has an appearance in Mower County District Court set for Feb. 20.

Township supervisors may discuss electing a president for the fire association, along with future handling of funds. Members of township boards will meet in Rose Creek before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. Rose Creek City Council meeting. The agenda was not available as of Monday.