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Ellsworth couple charged with theft

The daughter and son-in-law of former Ellsworth Police Chief Ronald Miller have been charged with stealing money from accounts which were in Miller’s name.

Debra K., 54, and Gregory J., 63, Birkel, 444 Park St., Ellsworth, were charged last week in Pierce County Circuit Court with theft in business setting. They are scheduled to make their initial appearance at 10 a.m., Monday, Oct. 7.

According to the criminal complaint:

The investigation started in March, when Pepin police were notified Miller tried to purchase candy and flowers for his wife, Roma, and found there wasn’t any money in his Pepin Manor account (where the two were residing). He contacted Debra Birkel, who was power of attorney, to send money. She replied she was in Florida and there were no checks, and Pepin Manor wouldn’t accept credit cards to put money in his account.

Miller asked one of his sons to check bank records in Ellsworth and found Debra Birkel was spending funds in Florida from the account. After deliberating the issue, Miller eventually told Pepin police he wanted the issue investigated.

Pepin Police Chief Jesse Van Alstine summarized his investigation in the complaint by saying, “Ms. Birkel knowingly used her parents’ finances from their (bank) account for numerous purchases for herself. These purchases include but are not limited to, gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, department stores, clothing stores, her own health care, cash checks in hers as well as her husband’s name, cash debts and numerous other purchases for herself.” Van Alstine summarized Debra Birkel spent over $30,000 on herself with accounts set up in both of her and her parents’ names.

For more read the Sept. 11 print version of the Herald. 

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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