Chippewa Falls man charged with theft from Knights of Columbus
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Chippewa Falls man charged with theft from Knights of Columbus

From the Top crime stories for May in the Chippewa Falls area series
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A Chippewa Falls man who ran the kitchen at the Knights of Columbus Council has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the organization and spending it at casinos, restaurants and on haircuts.

Peter A. Murphy Jr., 55, 17095 Highway X, was charged in Chippewa County Court with two counts of theft in a business setting. Murphy is slated to appear in court June 18.

According to the criminal complaint, the Knights of Columbus Council, 236 Pumphouse Road, contacted the Chippewa Falls Police Department on Feb. 21 about a theft after the organization’s account saw an overdraft.

Murphy ran the kitchen, which supplied concessions on Friday nights for bingo, as well as other functions throughout the year. Murphy had the only checkbook and debit card for the account, as he was in charge of purchasing for the kitchen and maintaining the inventory.

However, documents provided by the council showed Murphy had made multiple withdrawals from St. Croix Casino in Turtle Lake and Ho-Chunk Casino in Black River Falls, as well as other transactions that Murphy should not have made, the criminal complaint states.

The organization closed the account and deactivated the debit card on Feb. 21. Murphy went to the bank and attempted to reopen the account Feb. 24.

Chippewa Falls detective Drew Zehm determined there were suspicious ATM withdrawals between April 2019 and February 2020 totaling $6,042. That included more than $4,000 withdrawn at the two casinos.

Zehm also found $3,143 in “suspicious debit card transactions,” with nearly all at the two casinos. Other debit card transactions occurred at a restaurant and at a barbershop.

Zehm interviewed Murphy on Feb. 25, who stated he would make cash deposits to the account about twice a week. He admitted to using the account for cash withdrawals to reimburse himself for purchases he made for the kitchen. He said he would pay the account back.

However, Zehm pointed out that the amounts deposited after the withdrawals “were not consistent with the total amounts withdrawn.”

When asked about using the card at the casinos, Murphy said he used the money because “he needed to get home.”

Zehm determined there was approximately a $3,000 difference between the withdrawals and the amount Murphy later transferred back into the account.

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