Thomas Bielinski, 52, is charged with stealing more than $500,000 through a complex foreclosure scam in Milwaukee and was expected to plead guilty to felony charges at a plea hearing Monday. When he failed to appear at hearings Monday morning and afternoon, Judge J.D. Watts issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies apprehended Bielinski just before noon Wednesday at Holy Hill in Hubertus, said Lt. Martin Schulteis. A priest at Holy Hill alerted authorities that Bielinski was on the premises, he said.
Bielinski had rented a room at the Holy Hill Guest House on Tuesday night, Schulteis said, and law enforcement recovered a sleeping bag, cans of baked beans, a wallet and passport from his room.
Local law enforcement, along with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, had been looking for Bielinski since Monday.
“We dispatched several officers there,” Schulteis said. “There was an indication that he could be armed and dangerous.”
Bielinski was found alone, he said, sitting in the back of a church and did not resist arrest. Schulteis said he could not confirm if Bielinski had a knife, but confirmed he did not have a gun.
“He was very subdued,” Schulteis said. “Marshals walked right in and sat down next to him and then escorted him out.”
Schulteis said Bielinski was “distraught on the ride to the jail” after being apprehended.
He is being held in the Washington County Jail, but is expected to be transferred to Milwaukee for a bail hearing in front of Watts, said Milwaukee prosecutor Kurt Benkley.
Benkley declined to speculate on what bail amount he plans to seek.
“He missed his court appearance,” Benkley said. “So that certainly gives me cause to be concerned about him in the future.”
Bielinski could be back in court by the end of the week, Benkley said.
After his initial August arrest on felony fraud charges, Bielinski was released after posting a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.
He made all five scheduled court appearances prior to Monday’s scheduled plea hearing. A that time, Bielinski was expected to plead guilty to stealing $542,231.61 in unclaimed foreclosure money by falsely representing himself since 2007 as the attorney for the proper claimants.
According to the criminal complaint filed Aug. 23, Bielinski targeted mortgage foreclosure cases in which there was surplus money from sheriff’s sales. At least six owners of foreclosed properties were entitled to surplus money held in trust by the clerk’s office, but they had never filed a claim, the complaint stated.
Bielinski purported to represent the owners and claimed the money, according to the complaint.
In addition to facing criminal charges, Bielinski had a foreclosure claim filed against him by Waterstone Bank SSB on Sept. 21 and his wife, Jane Bielinski, filed for divorce Sept. 15 in Waukesha County Circuit Court.
Bielinski also filed a letter with the State Bar of Wisconsin seeking voluntary resignation of his law license. The resignation request is still pending before the state Supreme Court.