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Hudson woman makes appearance in court for embezzelment

HUDSON - A Hudson woman charged with four felony counts of theft from a Willow River Elementary School fund made an initial appearance in St. Croix County Circuit Court last week.

Nichole R. Haugen, 28, is accused of taking more than $35,000 from a parent group at the school. Judge Howard W. Cameron set a preliminary hearing for Friday (Aug. 5) at 9 a.m. She posted a $10,000 signature bond.

The criminal complaint said Haugen was the treasurer of the non-profit Willow River Parents Group and one of only two officers who had accesses to the club's checking account.

An officer of the group contacted police when thousands of dollars appeared to be missing. Checks written on the account were negotiated in the off season when no school activity took place and one was written to Verizon Wireless that apparently was for Haugen's personal use, the compliant said.

A police investigation turned up 38 checks from the account written to Nichole Haugen or her husband James Haugen for a total of $25,002.81 and a discrepancy between money earned in fundraisers and the amount deposited of $11,213.53.

One felony count charges Haugen with taking between $5,000 and $10,000 during the period June 1, 2009, through Jan. 1, 2011, and carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The three other felonies accuse her of taking more than $10,000 during the same period of time in each count and carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.