The case against a former car dealership office manager charged with defrauding M&I Bank of Rhinelander of funds in excess of $100,000 is likely to be resolved short of trial.
Christine Swan, 48, made an appearance in Oneida County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon at which time her attorney indicated a resolution is likely but the defense needs time to sort out restitution issues.
"The underlying case has some complexity because of restitution issues," said public defender John Vorhees. "It is going to require some more detailed analysis of some fairly voluminous records,"
Oneida County District Attorney Michael Bloom said he expects a plea agreement will be reached.
"It's my sense that it will be resolved short of trial," Bloom told the court.
Oneida County Circuit Judge Patrick O'Melia set a status conference for Jan. 23 and noted he will likely set the case for trial if an agreement is not announced on that date.
O'Melia also granted a defense request that Swan be allowed to travel to Upper Michigan for the holidays and to care for her ailing mother on a temporary basis.
According to a criminal complaint filed July 18, Swan is accused of defrauding M & I Bank by faxing fake floor plans to the institution as part of her job as office manager at the former Crossroads USA car dealership. The bank, believing the floor plans were legitimate and the cars on the plan were being placed on the lot to be sold to customers, fronted the dealership 80 percent of the purchase value of the vehicles and placed the funds in the dealership's bank account, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing.
The owner of the dealership, Jeff Meskill, discovered the alleged fraud in May 2011 and reported it to police, according to the complaint. Swan later confirmed to police that Meskill had no knowledge of her activities.
Swan later admitted to police that the floor plans she sent were fake, but added that she was only trying to keep the dealership open.
According to the complaint, Crossroads USA was forced to shut down as a result of Swan's alleged crimes and "federal tax issues."
She is charged in that case with one felony count of fraud against a financial institution (value exceeds $100,000).
In a separate case, Swan is accused of taking money from the Northwoods Pride and Joy Cruisers car club when she was acting as the club's secretary.
According to the criminal complaint in that case, the vice president of the club went to the police in late August to report concerns about the club's checking account. He told investigators Swan, who had been acting as treasurer for about two years, had been missing meetings prompting him to take a closer look at the club's records. A review of the checking account showed numerous unauthorized transactions and club officials assured the police Swan did not have permission to use the account for personal reasons. According to the complaint, Swan is accused of taking approximately $1,700 from the club. Besides the suspicious check transactions, Swan is also accused of taking about $200 in petty cash from the club and about $500 in proceeds from a meat raffle held in July.
Swan has been charged with theft in a business setting (less than $2,500) and bail jumping in connection with the car club case. The bail jumping charge was filed because Swan was ordered not to handle the financial accounts of anyone other than herself while under bond in the fraud case.
If convicted of all charges, Swan faces more than 20 years in prison.
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