The former treasurer of a Norwalk Knights of Columbus organization faces felony charges for allegedly stealing almost $110,000 from the organization.
Gerald Weisenberger, 66, first block of E. Washington St., was indicted Friday by a Huron County grand jury on two counts of theft and one count of security writings by deception.
Knights of Columbus Home Association officers started looking over the club’s accounts in January when a new treasurer took over, after Weisenberger was voted out of the position after 20 years, Norwalk police Detective Jim Fulton said.
They started to find missing accounts and deposits, and traced the problem back to 2005, and the sale of the Knights of Columbus house to a second party. The house was to be leased back to the club for $1 a year.
Weisenberger was supposed to take the payments on the house and place them in a bank as certificates of deposit to collect interest for the club.
“They started doing some investigation and found out those CDs didn’t exist pretty quickly,” Fulton said.
One deposit from the first payment of about $30,000 was placed into a CD, but a year later it was only worth half that. Weisenberger allegedly deposited the funds into a checking account instead, from which he withdrew cash in small increments, mostly between $50 and $200.
“The accounts basically got drained,” Fulton said. “There should have been some checks and balances in place, requiring two signatures. But they weren’t there.”
Weisenberger cooperated with Knights of Columbus officers during their investigation.
“He made admissions right away to the club. He wanted to remedy the situation, pay it back,” Fulton said.
Weisenberger allegedly invested the money into a business venture over several years, selling fire suppression systems. Fulton deemed it a pyramid-type scheme. Weisenberger had opened a storefront with the money in Mansfield, but moved it to Sandusky and then to Amherst. He spent most of the money running the operation, according to authorities.
Weisenberger, who is battling cancer, wasn’t able to pay the money back. He had spent up to $2,500 a month running the business, between rent and payroll.
“You could drain that money out pretty quickly,” Fulton said. “He initially started out saying he was borrowing that money, but he never really had permission to do so.”
Club members took their investigation to police when Weisenberger couldn’t pay back the money. Police wrapped up the loose ends in the case and sent it to prosecutors, who presented it to a grand jury last week.
Municipal court records show Weisenberger first had financial problems in 2006, when a credit card company filed a claim against him for about $9,000. Three other credit card companies and collection agencies have filed similar cases against him since, for $4,200, $6,600, and $7,800, court records show.
Weisenberger is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 2.
An indictment is merely a formal charge and does not denote guilt or innocence.
Others indicted by the grand jury were:
• Garry Ellis Jr., 21, of Cleveland, aggravated robbery, abduction, felonious assault, theft of a firearm, theft of a motor vehicle, and tampering with evidence, with multiple firearm specifications.
• Megan Wiseman, 25, 200 block Benedict Ave., forgery and receiving stolen property.
• Justin Trotter, 30, Shiloh, breaking and entering and tampering with evidence.
• Arielle Aldrich, 23, Lagrange, Ind., trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin, and possession of cocaine.
• Adam Norman, 20, 7200 block Township Road 80, Bellevue, receiving stolen property.
• Kenneth Jenkins, 22, 300 block Brinker St., receiving stolen property and forgery.
• Kyle Strong, 24, 100 block Flat Rock Road, Bellevue, breaking and entering, safecracking and theft of drugs.
• Jared Holland, 24, 6000 block Zenobia Road, Wakeman, theft of drugs.
• Shannon Roe, 27, Wooster, obstructing justice.
• Jeremy Robinson, 22, 1000 block Myrtle Ave., Willard, complicity to trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin, and possession of cocaine.
• Adewale Olaniyan, 37, first block Parsons St., possession of cocaine.
• Misty Rose Brock, 32, Lorain, trafficking counterfeit controlled substance.