Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Woman guilty of receiving stolen money
Anderson awaits sentencing, jury trial for bail jumping

by Rob Ireland

May 30, 2013

A woman who received nearly a half a million dollars in stolen money is sitting in jail without bond as she awaits a sentencing hearing and a possible prison sentence.

And to make matters worse for the woman, she has another jury trial set for June 13, and, if convicted of those charges, she faces even more time behind bars.

Joanne M. Anderson, 50, now of Kentucky, was found guilty by a Walworth County jury May 22 of receiving stolen property.

When she is sentenced July 30, she faces up to five years of initial confinement and five years of extended supervision. She is sitting in the Walworth County jail without bond awaiting her sentencing hearing.

Anderson was convicted after her horse farm, Blue Hill Lippitt Morgans, received more than $400,000 in money that was stolen from Home Design Manufacturing.

In 2008, police caught wind of an employee stealing more than $800,000 from Home Design Manufacturing in the town of Walworth. That employee, Kari Sue Clark-Branton, 43, told police she was trying to help Anderson realize her dream of raising and showing show horses. Court records indicate that more than $400,000 was issued to Blue Hill Lippitt Morgans, a business that Anderson owned from 2001 to 2008.

Clark-Branton was convicted of two counts of theft and 30 counts of forgery. On July 7, 2009, she was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and 2 1/2 years of extended supervision.

Clark-Branton was released from prison in February 2011.

On June 13, Anderson is scheduled to face another jury trial, she is charged with two counts of felony bail jumping.

As a condition of her bond, Anderson was required to notify the court if she changed her address, and she allegedly left the state and bought a home in Kentucky without notifying the court.

According to the criminal complaint on the bail jumping charge:

On Oct. 31, 2011, Anderson was released on bond, and was required to report any change of address to the court within 48 hours.

On April 16, a detective with the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department contacted Walworth County Det. Jeff Recknagel. A Sawyer County Sheriff’s detective told Recknagel that he was told Anderson moved out of her home in Exeland on April 3. The detective went to Anderson’s residence and found it was empty of all its furnishings.

The Sawyer County detective also reported that an auction was held at Anderson’s home on April 5. At the post office, the detective spoke to a clerk who said Anderson had a hold on all mail delivery. The clerk didn’t have a forwarding address for Anderson.

In Exeland, which is a small community, the Sawyer County detective spoke to several residents who reported Anderson had possibly moved to Kentucky.

On April 23, Deputy Sheriff Ben Natividad of the Hickman County Sheriff’s Department in Kentucky reported that he received information that Anderson was living in Arlington in a home that she had purchased.

He also learned that a woman named “Joanne Anderson” was working at a local restaurant as a waitress. Natividad went to the restaurant and saw a small red car with Wisconsin plates.

According to the criminal complaint on the theft charges:

On March 24, 2008, the owners of Home Design Manufacturing Co. contacted police after an accountant reviewed its finances and discovered more than $800,000 in funds had been embezzled.

Clark-Branton, who worked for the company, admitted she had been stealing from the business for about five years and estimated she stole between $150,000 and $200,000.

A certified public accountant reported that between 2001 and 2008 checks totalling $498,502 were written to Clark-Branton and during that time period, $413, 507 in checks were written to Blue Hills Lippitt Morgans.

Anderson worked for Home Design Manufacturing in 1992, but left after making unauthorized charges to a credit card. After Anderson left, she recommended Clark-Branton to fill her position.

When police interviewed Clark-Branton, she said she would forge the business owner’s signature on checks and issued between 500 and 1,000 checks without the owner’s consent.

Clark-Branton said she attempted to cover her tracks by changing the “payee” in Quick Books to a vendor that works with the business. She said she forgot to do this with one check, which is why she believed she was caught.

Clark-Branton also said she overpaid herself in payroll and bonus checks.

While Clark-Branton worked for Home Design Manufacturing, Anderson would e-mail Clark-Branton bills to the horse farm and Clark-Branton would determine which checks she could issue without getting caught.

Clark-Branton told police she never told Anderson the checks were being issued without permission, but she also never told Anderson the business owner authorized the transactions.

The business owner received a letter from Clark-Branton dated Feb. 27, 2008, which stated Anderson was in the process of contacting family members to obtain funds to repay the debt.

Clark-Branton wrote Anderson is doing “everything in her power” to sell horses so, “we can get this money issue settled with you more quickly.”