Norwalk KofC victim: Ex-treasurer abused 'system of trust'

Cancer diagnosis changed priority of man who kept telling himself he'd pay back the money.
Cary Ashby
Jul 9, 2014

"I got in over my head."

That's the way convicted thief Gerald R. Weisenberger described the five-year situation of skimming $106,000 from the Norwalk Knights of Columbus Home Association. He said he kept telling himself he'd pay back the money to the local fraternal organization and eventually saved some funds to do so, but a cancer diagnosis changed that priority.

"We're not sure he's cancer-free," defense attorney John Allton said Tuesday.

With the kind of cancer Weisenberger has, Allton said it's doubtful his client has a long-term diagnosis.

In mid-April, Weisenberger, 67, of 9 E. Washington St., pleaded guilty to one count each of theft and securing writings by deception. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed one count of theft. Weisenberger's June 11 sentencing hearing in Huron County Common Pleas Court was postponed to Tuesday due to his health issues.

Weisenberger, who has reimbursed KofC $4,500, must make monthly payments of $500 to the Knights during his five years of probation. Also, he must make the organization the sole beneficiary on his life insurance and isn't allowed to change it.

He must report to the Huron County Jail by 8 a.m. Aug. 1 to serve a 90-day sentence. The defendant also has another 90 days hanging over his head. If Weisenberger violates the terms of his probation, he faces 18 months in prison.

"This individual certainly took advantage of many trusting people -- not only his former KofC brothers, but also other organizations -- who have not come forward with his misdeeds," said one of the KofC victims, Doug Colvin, who accused Weisenberger of skimming money from several local organizations.

Weisenberger was the treasurer/secretary for the Norwalk Knights for 21 years. His convictions are for incidents between 2006 through 2011. The defendant said Tuesday he took $50 to $500 from various KofC accounts "several different times" to use for his business "with the intention of paying them back (with interest) when I could."

"As a former state auditor's employee, he certainly knew the procedure to manipulate the funds for his personal needs -- whatever they were," Colvin said. "False reports, phony CDs and even falsified federal tax returns didn't deter his actions. He simply utilized a system of trust."

The situation started when the Knights sold the property at 254 W. Main St. in September 2005. The group now rents the space in the building to hold meetings on a 10-year lease. The Knights sold the building and grounds for more than $150,000, with a down payment of $50,000, which included an agreement of $25,000 each year plus interest.

Through random checks and balances of computer statements provided by the bank, current KofC treasurer/secretary John Evans has said he discovered "there were clearly multiple CD transfers to a checking account" and cash withdrawals often cited by bank slip imaging records with Weisenberger's signature.

"I don't think he believes he took (more than) $100,000. He just took it a dollar at a time. Over time, it just added up," Evans said after Tuesday's hearing.

KofC representatives reported the thefts to the Norwalk Police Department in June 2013.

"His thefts far exceeded what he has been charged (with). We have only presented what has been easily documented and proven. His greed certainly took advantage of the many volunteers attempting to help the charitable purposes to which we are dedicated," Colvin said in court.

Visiting Judge Thomas Pokorny said what's most disturbing is Weisenberger had time to reflect on each offense from an organization committed to helping others, but he committed the thefts "time after time after time." Pokorny oversaw the case because local Judge Jim Conway is a member of the Norwalk KofC.

Comments

Contango

Re: "21 years"

Far too long to go without an audit.

At least he did the honorable thing, pled guilty and did not waste taxpayer money on a trial.

44846GWP

There goes Winnie again, all he cares about is the bottom dollar.

swiss family

First of all, let me say that I am sorry for Mr Weisenberger's diagnosis and situation with Cancer, I would not wish that on anyone.I also want to say, that I have observed Mr Altons tactics as a lawyer, in the past, and considering which side you are on, I believe that he would go so far as to "play up" a condition such as this, to invoke sympathy from they Judge or jury or anyone in a position to help his client, if that is what it took, to help his client, if that was all that was available , to use to help his case..

So, Lets Do some math here.. Mr Weisenberger was treasurer for 21 years... the years were are looking through are only 5 of those 21.. and in those 5 we find that he stole .. $106,000.00.......WHAT??? so it seems that his punishment is $500.00 a month.. times 12 months comes out to 6,000.00 a year times 5 years comes out to $30,000.00 he has to repay the K of C's..not a bad haul there Mr Weisenberger... you steal $106,000.00 and have to repay $30,000.00 ??? Plus sign over you life insurance police to them?? I hope the policy is worth at least 76,000.00 and again that only covers the loss for those years.. they have not gone into the other 16 years that you had control of the money as well..

Now lets take a look at "remorse" which seems top be what most Judges look for when sentencing, as we have been led to believe.. Mr Weisenberger says..."he took $50 to $500 from various KofC accounts "several different times" to use for his business "with the intention of paying them back (with interest) when I could." I am sorry Mr Weisenberger.. but lets look at your statement.. and even go with the highest of your guesses and say you took "$500. but I am sorry but even if you took the $500 , you could not have d=one it "SEVERAL"different time.. you would have had to do it 212.... times... let me state that again.... that would have been .... 212 times.... which is a far cry from what most people consider to be classified as "several".. usually several means...under 10....so I think you show little if any remorse..

JACKEL

I am very surprised that so many organizations will operate without more safeguards in place. You can not depend on the banks to police your signatures. I was a treasurer for years and we had a three part sig on all checks. I purposely singed several to test and they were never challenged ! Several local groups have been nailed over the years. Doctors, Legion, Schools, Boosters etc. Wake up people these groups usually work very hard to raise this monies ! I am convinced a lot of cancers are due to stress. Hope for your remission Mr. Wiesenberger !