A Wahpeton woman has been charged with a class A felony after an Investigation uncovered activity at the local motor vehicle office.
The investigation, conducted by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, used forensic accounting, interviews and subpoenaed documents to look into the Wahpeton motor vehicle office which was managed by Catherine Muehler.
Muehler, 72, owned and managed the branch office for several years. However, according to the criminal complaint provided by the Richland County State’s Attorney office, the investigation only focused on the time period between Jan. 1, 2012 and May 6, 2013.
The criminal complaint alleges that the defendant willfully disposed of, used, or transferred interests in property that were entrusted to her, namely as the manager of the branch office under contract with the North Dakota Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division in a manner that she knew, or should have known, was not authorized and she knew to involve a risk of loss or detriment to the NDDOT.
The complaint further states that Muehler was authorized to maintain a bank account for branch office deposits.
Under the contract she had with the NDDOT, the only transactions that were to take place involving the account were the daily deposits of funds received by the branch office, the payments of funds from the account to the NDDOT Motor Vehicle Division for fees collected and the payment from the account to the branch office’s separate account for the service fees collected. The account was to be zeroed out on a daily basis.
Forensic accounting which took place as part of the investigation utilized records related to the office. This forensic accounting compared the deposits and checks listed on the daily reports to the deposit, checks, credits and charges for the account.
According to the complaint, the accounting revealed that during the time period previously stated, transactions in excess of $80,000 were made but were not authorized under the agreement and over $100,00 is currently owed to the NDDOT.
A class A felony, according to the North Dakota Century Code, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a find of $20,000, or both.
The next step in the proceedings is a preliminary hearing. No date has been set yet, according to the Richland County State’s Attorney office.