Ex-Rose Creek clerk gets a year of probation

Published 10:49 am Friday, August 8, 2014

A former Rose Creek city clerk was sentenced to one year of supervised probation in Mower County District Court Thursday for swindling a rural firefighters fund.

Janet Nelsen, 48, pleaded guilty to theft by swindling on May 22 as part of a plea agreement. Two other theft-related charges were dropped.

Nelsen will also have to pay back more than $3,800 in restitution and write a letter of apology as part of her sentence. She paid her restitution Thursday, according to court records.

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According to the court complaint filed in January, Nelsen has for years been the bookkeeper for the Rural Fire Association. Windom, Nevada and Marshall townships form part of the association, as they compile $5,500 per year to couple with the Rose Creek Fire Department for a total of $11,000 toward the fund.

The Rose Creek fire chief grew suspicious of the bookkeeping last fall. According to the court complaint, that upset Nelsen. She later attended a township meeting and reportedly said, “Here, you guys take this,” and handed over the association’s checking account information and checks.

The Windom Township treasurer looked into the bookkeeping and said the records “were a mess,” and that she was unable to find receipts and bank records. Furthermore, Nelsen, who was to receive $175 per year for keeping the association’s books, was reportedly paying herself more than once per year and putting checks in her husband’s bank account, as well.

The Rose Creek City Council fired Nelsen in March, almost two months after she was charged. The council’s seeming reluctance to terminate Nelsen drew public criticism but council members explained at a March council meeting that they had looked for other candidates during that time.