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Forum News Service, Published October 23 2013

Carlton County fires employee accused of stealing $1 million

CARLTON, Minn. - A Carlton County transfer station employee accused of stealing upwards of $1 million has been terminated, the county announced Wednesday.

Joanne Marie Wappes, 63, of Cloquet, was fired Oct. 3 and did not file a grievance challenging the termination, according to Dennis Genereau Jr., the county’s human resources director.

“The County is reviewing its procedures for the handling of cash transactions,” Genereau said in a statement. “In addition, the County is reviewing all of its options for recovery of stolen funds and will seek restitution in the criminal proceedings.”

Wappes was charged Sept. 20 in State District Court with theft of public funds and theft by swindle.

Because she worked for Carlton County, the case has been handed over to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

The investigation began after officials were informed of potential improper financial activity at the transfer station. An investigation by her supervisors and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Wappes was manipulating the cash register at the transfer station, authorities said.