MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Sarah Anne Tischer, 43, Amery, Wisconsin was sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 18 months in federal prison for wire fraud. Tischer’s term of imprisonment is to be followed by a three-year period of supervised release. Judge Peterson also ordered Tischer to pay $526,416 in restitution. Tischer pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud on November 4, 2022.
In June 2017, Tischer established a special needs trust for a beneficiary who suffered from severe medical and developmental disabilities. As trustee, Tischer had full discretion to make payments from the trust on behalf of the beneficiary. Tischer regularly withdrew money from the investment account and deposited the funds into various bank accounts. Once in these accounts, Tischer spent the money and documented the expenditures in the trust’s ledger.
In January 2020, bank employees notified the Polk County Human Services Department that someone was spending money from the special needs trust at a casino in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. Based on this complaint, Polk County officials held an injunction hearing that resulted in Tischer being removed as trustee.
Following this hearing, the FBI opened a criminal investigation and examined the trust’s financial records. At the end of the review, an FBI forensic accountant determined that Tischer fraudulently withdrew $526,413 from the special needs trust and spent the money at casinos, on personal items, and on home improvement projects. Tischer also forged numerous ledger entries in an effort avoid detection.
In sentencing Tischer, Judge Peterson pointed out the particularly horrible nature of Tischer’s crimes. Judge Peterson specifically noted the long-term pattern of Tischer’s wrongdoing, as well as the lasting financial impact Tischer’s actions had on the trust’s beneficiary.
The charges against Tischer were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chadwick M. Elgersma prosecuted this case.