Former Winona diocese employee accused of theft

Published 9:10 am Friday, March 27, 2015

WINONA — A former employee of both the Diocese of Winona and Diocese of La Crosse is accused of stealing $116,000 from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas while an employee there.

The Wyandotte County, Kansas, prosecutor’s office announced that 52-year-old Rose A. Hammes of Kansas City, Kansas, has been charged with three counts of felony theft. She is jailed in Wyandotte County in lieu of $50,000 bond.

According to a statement from the archdiocese, the Wyandotte County district attorney’s office was notified last year after the archdiocese discovered “financial irregularities in April 2014. The archdiocese contacted law enforcement because it believed it was the victim of fraud and had suffered a sizable loss, in excess of $100,000.”

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“The archdiocese remains in full cooperation with law enforcement authorities as this case moves forward,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, who invited “the prayers of Catholics of the archdiocese for the parties involved in the case.”

The archdiocese said it hopes to recover the loss through insurance. Additional details about the charges weren’t immediately available.

Hammes served as archdiocesan director of communications and pastoral planning at the Kansas archdiocese beginning in September 2010 until April 2014. In the Winona Diocese, she served as director of communications and was also editor of the diocesan newspaper, The Courier, from June 2004 until she left to work for the Kansas City archdiocese.

Hammes started her career in the La Crosse diocese in 1985 as a writer and advertising saleswoman for the diocesan newspaper. At the time of her resignation there, she was diocesan director of communications, as well as public relations and technology coordinator.

Hammes’ father, William Hammes, a custodian at St. Patrick’s Church in Onalaska, was 66 when Bryan Stanley walked into the church and opened fire with a shotgun, killing Hammes, Ferdinand Roth Sr., a parish lay minister, and the Rev. John Rossiter, the parish priest.

Stanley was found innocent of the murders by reason of mental defect or disease. Stanley was released from the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison in 2009, but in May 2012, La Crosse County Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez ordered him to be returned to the facility and held indefinitely after it was found he violated conditions of his release.

The Associated Press and La Crosse Tribune staff contributed to this story.