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Windom woman who bilked $60k from cemetery board, employer sentenced to work release

(Windom, MN) – A Windom woman who bilked both a local cemetery board and her previous employer out of tens of thousands of dollars was sentenced to work release.

Kera Dawn Johnson Haugen, 48, was convicted of two counts of felony theft by swindle in Cottonwood County District Court Wednesday.

In an Alford plea signed in June, Johnson Haugen agreed to plead guilty to the two felonies in exchange for the dismissal of two other charges.

Cottonwood County District Court Judge Christina Wietzema sentenced Johnson Haugen to 30 days in the Cottonwood County Jail on work release.  She is also ordered to serve 30 days of jail time per year for the following four years.  That jail time could be waived if probation recommends.  Johnson Haugen was also ordered to pay $50,683 in restitution and will spend seven years on supervised probation.

In September 2018, the Windom Cemetery Association reported to police that Johnson Haugen had swindled approximately $44,000 from the association’s checking account.  Investigation revealed that she had purchased multiple items on Amazon.com with the association account: 1st communion rosaries, Cinderella shoes, gold style iron, a Thermos protector, and more.  Haugen has also opened an American Express card under the association’s name using her home address.

Haugen’s previous employer met with detectives in October 2018.  The insurance company owner told police he’d fired Johnson Haugen as his office manager after 20 years of employment.  According to the owner, he had learned Johnson Haugen had been making purchases on an unauthorized Amazon.com Chase company credit card.   After removing her from the position, he learned his business account was maxed out and in overdraft protection.  Haugen paid him $12,000 for those funds.

The insurance company’s new office manager reviewed records and found purchases for hotels, airline tickets and cash withdrawals.  There were nearly $15,500 in fraudulent charges, not including the $5,000 from the Chase card the business had earlier discovered.

**This article was updated to include additional jail time that was previously omitted.

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