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Eau Claire County Wants To Garnish Pensions Of Employees Who Embezzle

Call For State Action Comes After County Treasurer, Secretary Convicted Of Stealing $1.4M From Taxpayers

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The Eau Claire County Board is pushing for the right to garnish the pensions of public workers convicted of stealing from local governments. The move comes after a longtime county treasurer was found guilty of stealing taxpayer money.

In a nearly unanimous vote, the Eau Claire County Board approved a resolution asking for a change in state law that would allow local governments to tap the pensions of employees who embezzle money. In 2016, longtime county treasurer Larry Lokken and his secretary were convicted of stealing nearly $1.4 million. Board Supervisor Steve Chilson is an author of the resolution. He said the treasurer hasn’t paid any restitution and his pension should not be off limits.

“It only makes sense,” said Chilson. “I mean, if a person steals and we’re talking about that kind of money, it would only make sense that they’d have to or be forced to pay restitution.”

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Chilson said the board has sent letters to local lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker encouraging the state to tweak the state law relating to Wisconsin Retirement System pensions.

“We’re very hopeful that it’ll get taken up by the Legislature and see if we can get something done for the people of Wisconsin,” said Chilson.

The current legislative session is nearly over with the state Senate expected to meet one more time later this month.

Republican state Sen. Terry Moulton, of Chippewa Falls, would support allowing local governments to garnish pensions, according to his office.

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