Carlton County terminates employee accused of stealing $1 millionFormer transfer station employee Joanne Marie Wappes, 62, of Cloquet, was terminated on Oct. 3 and did not file a grievance challenging the termination, according to Dennis Genereau Jr., the county’s human resources director.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
A former Carlton County transfer station employee accused of stealing upwards of $1 million has been terminated, the county announced today.
Joanne Marie Wappes, 63, of Cloquet, was fired on Oct. 3 and did not file a grievance challenging the termination, according to Dennis Genereau Jr., the county’s human resources director.
“The County is reviewing its procedures for the handling of cash transactions,” Genereau said in a statement. “In addition, the County is reviewing all of its options for recovery of stolen funds and will seek restitution in the criminal proceedings.”
Wappes was charged in State District Court with theft of public funds and theft by swindle Sept. 20.
Because she worked for Carlton County, the case has been handed over to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office for prosecution. A Hibbing prosecutor will handle the case. The case has been continued to January to allow attorneys to sort through evidence.
The investigation began after officials were informed of potential improper financial activity at the transfer station. Genereau said the current department head overseeing the station has only supervised Wappes since 2012, and the previous supervisor retired in 2012.
The case against Wappes took an unusual turn earlier this month when a man who burglarized her home twice in fall 2010 claimed he took cash from the dwelling far in excess of what he was convicted of stealing. David Michael Smith, 51, of Cloquet, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in March 2011 and served eight months with credit for time served.