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Payroll accountant charged with skimming more than $1 million from Glendale hospital

Woman says gambling addiction fueled her exploits

Dec. 2, 2013

Glendale — Janice Nieman, 49, of Milwaukee, is accused of embezzling nearly $1.1 million from the payroll accounts of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and several of its subsidiaries.

Nieman was charged Nov. 25 with three counts of theft and one count of unauthorized use of personal information in connection with her alleged scheme. According to a summons issued on Friday, Nieman is expected at an initial court hearing on Dec. 20.

Each theft charge carries a maximum fine of $25,000 and prison term of 10 years; the personal information charge carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and prison term of six years.

According to a Nov. 25 criminal complaint filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court:

Bogus requests

Nieman was a 15-year payroll specialist at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Glendale and handled payroll accounts for five of the hospital's subsidiaries. She was fired in July after Wheaton Fransciscan administrators caught on to her scheme and began an internal investigation.

Using her access to the companies' payroll systems, Nieman allegedly entered bogus paid time off requests on behalf of other employees and diverted the pay into her own bank account.

According to payroll records from Wheaton Franciscan, between 2004 and 2013 Nieman manipulated the payroll accounts of 848 employees for a total of 2,010 fraudulent transactions totaling a loss of nearly $1.1 million. In the peak year of 2011, Nieman's alleged theft cost Wheaton Franciscan nearly $200,000.

Online system leads to bust

Until April 2012, Wheaton Franciscan used paper pay stubs, which allowed Nieman to destroy the paper trail of her fake paid time off requests. When the company switched to online pay records, the details of which employees could freely examine, Nieman began running her bogus transactions through the payroll accounts of terminated employees.

The new scheme worked until an employee quit in May and was re-hired in June. When the woman logged into the online payroll system she noticed a 40-hour paid time off request had been fulfilled during the time she had not been with the company.

When the woman contacted payroll administrators to question the request, which was listed as paid, the resulting investigation unraveled Nieman's scheme.

Gambling fuels scheme

A review of Nieman's customer account at Potawatomi Bingo Casino revealed that she lost nearly $500,000 at the slot machines of the casino between 2007 and 2013.

On at least 77 days, Nieman gambled more than $10,000 through the slots. On several of those days she gambled more than $20,000 and on one day in 2009 she fed more than $30,000 to the machines.

In total, Nieman gambled just over $3.9 million through the slot machines from 2007 to 2013, her Potawatomi account showed.

In a statement to Glendale police, Nieman said her gambling problem started when she lost a job prior to working at Wheaton Franciscan. She said she was depressed and gambling helped her relieve stress. She denied having an alcohol problem.

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