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Judge sentences office manager to 2 years for embezzlement

Gary Deml will serve two years in prison after embezzling nearly $1 million from La Crosse-based Bernie J. Buchner Inc. (Photo courtesy of La Crosse County Jail)

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — An office manager accused of embezzling more than $1 million from a small business in La Crosse has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Prosecutors say Gary Deml stole from Bernie J. Buchner Inc., a heating, ventilation and air conditioning business, forcing it to make cuts, use aging and inadequate equipment and lose employees’ retirement money. Deml had sole control over the company’s finances. His attorney said Deml used the money to satisfy creditors for his failing refrigeration business in Sparta.

According to the court complaint, Deml, a La Crosse resident, allegedly stole $958,864.97 between 2001 and 2010 from the contractor.

Company representatives became aware of a problem in April 2010 when M&I Bank contacted company owner Gary Buchner to say there was not enough money in the company account to cover payroll, according to the complaint. Buchner ordered an audit of company finances, which uncovered multiple checks made out to Deml’s former company, All-Seasons Refrigeration Inc., according to the criminal complaint.

The La Crosse Tribune reports Deml earlier pleaded no contest to theft, forgery and fraudulent writings. A tearful Buchner told the judge Monday in La Crosse County Circuit Court that Deml needs to feel the same pain and suffering he and his employes have felt.

Information from the La Crosse Tribune and Wisconsin Law Journal staff.

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