An Omro man accused of taking funds from the Omro Masons and using them to renovate his residence is now facing criminal charges.
From the Northwestern.com website in Wisconsin:
John R. Hoeft, 64, is charged in Winnebago County Circuit Court with theft from a business setting of more than $10,000. If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison and $25,000.
According to the criminal complaint, Hoeft was the treasurer for the Masonic Lodge in Omro when the organization's charter was stripped it was taken over by the Royal Arch Masons State Chapter due to low enrollment. In the process, the Omro chapter's financial records were examined and it was discovered nearly $40,000 was missing.
Further examination revealed that between August 2011 and October 2012, nine checks were written to either Hoeft or JRH Promotions, Hoeft's business. The checks totaled $36,893. The checks were all signed by Hoeft and three were also signed by Raymond Hoeft, who was also a member of the organization.
When police spoke with a trustee of the Omro Masons, he said membership was so low, only the Hoefts and himself were present at meetings and no financial decisions were made. He said the checks were never approved.
Hoeft told police he became aware in June 2012 that the Omro Masons would be losing their charter due to low enrollment He said over the course of one-and-a-half years, he deposited money into his account or the JRH Promotions account from the Omro Mason's account to pay for renovations on his house, mostly for windows and doors.
Hoeft acknowledged he did not have the Mason's permission to use the money for renovations. He also told police that although his father, Raymond Hoeft, pre-signed the checks, he did not know what they were used for. Raymond Hoeft died in December 2012.
Hoeft will make his first court appearance on July 28.