By Paige Kieffer
SUN SAILOR NEWSPAPERS
Former Lake Minnetonka Association Executive Director Melissa Waskiewicz has been charged for allegedly stealing more than $48,000, by writing checks to herself from two of the nonprofit’s bank accounts.
According to charges filed in Hennepin County District Court, Waskiewicz allegedly wrote 45 checks to herself from Dec. 16, 2014 to Aug. 25, 2016. The charges allege that she stole $13,250 from the association’s lake vegetation management account between Dec. 16, 2014 to June 5, 2016. In addition, it’s being reported that she also allegedly stole from the association’s bank account between Feb. 23, 2015 to Aug. 25, 2016.
Association President Tom Frahm said that he discovered financial discrepancies on Aug. 29, when he was reviewing statements for the month of July and allegedly discovered checks in the executive director account for that month exceeded $5,000.
Frahm said he went to the organization’s accountant to print copies of all the checks in the executive director account for July. He said he then asked Waskiewicz for her invoices of all the checks, which she provided.
On Aug. 31, Frahm said Waskiewicz allegedly admitted in an email that she was writing checks to herself. Frahm declined to share the email with the Sun Sailor.
Frahm said Waskiewicz was fired shortly after allegedly admitting to writing checks to herself. Frahm added that he allegedly told Waskiewicz she was not allowed to write checks to herself and the checks needed to be signed by him.
Frahm said the association reported the situation to Orono Police shortly after she was fired.
Waskiewicz commented on the allegations during the investigation through her attorney Frederick J. Goetz. “Miss Waskiewicz did not steal, embezzle or misappropriate a single penny from the Lake Minnetonka Association and we find the allegations absolutely reckless and unfounded,” he said.
On Sept. 20, Frahm sent a letter to members who donated more than $300 to the organization.
In the letter he wrote, “Unfortunately, our board has uncovered a misappropriation of funds within our organization earlier this month. It is our belief that our executive director (Waskiewicz), who has been terminated and reported to authorities, abused her access regarding our finances and channeled unauthorized payments to herself exceeding her contract. Upon suspicion, we immediately halted all access to our financial accounts, business information and communication tools. With the aid of our outside accountant, we have thoroughly audited our finances and spending encompassing her tenure with the Lake Minnetonka Association.”
The association is a nonprofit membership organization for homeowners and businesses on the lake. The association assists with invasive species treatment and removal, works to prevent invasive species and shoreline cleanup, promotes and regulates safe and reasonable lake use, monitors the preservation and protection of Lake Minnetonka, partners with other organizations for legislative support, provides information resources and advocates for lakeshore owners.
Frahm said that Waskiewicz’s executive director salary was $2,000 per month. As the association doesn’t have an office, Waskiewicz worked from her Minneapolis home.
Waskiewicz’s first court appearance is set for March 8.
This month, the association announced the appointment of Eric Evenson as executive director.