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Press Release

Former Rusk County Employee Sentenced to 5 Years for Embezzling Over $700,000

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin

MADISON, WIS. - Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Sandra Stiner, 66, Ladysmith, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Conley to five years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.   Stiner pleaded guilty to these charges on August 12, 2020.

Stiner worked at the Rusk County Health and Human Service Department (HHS) for 42 years before retiring in January 2019.  While working for HHS, Stiner misappropriated $702,351, during a nine-year time span, from June 2010 to January 2019, by creating and submitting fictitious invoices allegedly from a home-based therapy company (R.Y.P.) for nonexistent intensive in-home autism services to twin boys.  

At her plea hearing on August 12, 2020, Stoner admitted that she used, without lawful authority, a means of identification of real people and real entities in an effort to create documentation that appeared legitimate and provided cover to support her fraud scheme, including taking the name and taxpayer identification number (TIN) of R.Y.P., and the name of its founder, Dr. K.L., and misusing them to create a nominee bank account, nominee email account, and fictitious invoices.

Stiner also admitted that part of her fraud scheme included her forging the signature of Dr. K.L. on various R.Y.P. documents and IRS forms to make these documents appear legitimate to Rusk County.  Stiner also admitted that she took the name of T&T S.C., a CPA firm in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and misused it to create a fictitious letter and financial statements for R.Y.P.  Stiner told Judge Conley that she created a nominee bank account on June 21, 2010 at Bank of America using the name of R.Y.P. and forged the signature of Dr. K.L. on the R.Y.P. direct deposit authorization form to make sure the payments came to Stiner and not the real owner of R.Y.P.  Based on these fictitious invoices, Rusk County paid $702,351 to Stiner’s nominee bank account over a 9-year period.

Judge Conley imposed a sentence of three years for the wire fraud charge and a consecutive two years for the aggravated identity theft charge, for a total prison sentence of five years.  Judge Conley ordered Stiner to report to prison on January 6, 2021.

In imposing sentence today, Judge Conley told Stiner that he has seldom seen someone whose conduct was so cynical, deliberative and longstanding.  He explained to Stiner that her conduct also undermined the public trust in government institutions.  Judge Conley ended his comments by telling Stiner, “I am holding you responsible for the decisions you made.”

The charges against Stiner are the result of an investigation conducted by the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Graber is handling the prosecution.

Updated November 12, 2020

Financial Fraud
Public Corruption