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Former Kohler employee gets 90 days in theft case

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — A former Kohler Co. employee charged with using company credit cards to start an escort service has been sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Kirk Riddle was accused of charging $117,500 to launch an escort service using Las Vegas call girls, according to Sheboygan Press Media.

Riddle, 47, also was accused of stealing a generator and two toilets from the company valued at $17,000 and installing the items at his Sheboygan home.

Sheboygan County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Van Akkeren also sentenced Riddle to three years’ probation Friday. Riddle pleaded no contest to two counts of felony theft as part of a plea deal. Nine other criminal charges were dismissed.

During the hearing, Riddle apologized for his actions and said he held himself “fully accountable.”

Van Akkeren said jail was appropriate as opposed to prison time, since Riddle has no prior criminal record and has paid back Kohler for the stolen amounts.

“You have the education and the training that you should be able to become a contributing member of society again,” Van Akkeren said, referring to Riddle’s master’s degree. “I do believe, however, there is need for some punishment for what you’ve done, considering the dollar amounts involved.”

Van Akkeren’s sentence was below the six months of jail time requested by District Attorney Joe DeCecco and well below the maximum 10 years in prison Riddle was facing.

Riddle was head of a team that traveled the world to lead product demonstrations for Kohler when the crimes occurred, though defense attorney Ryan Kautzer said Riddle is an alcoholic who’d been sober for many years before suffering a relapse that led him astray.

“He certainly made his own bed so to speak,” Kautzer said. “He’s lost everything because of his actions.”

The judge did not consider new allegations against Riddle.

Last month, he was arrested after allegedly burglarizing a friend’s home, stealing checks and then writing them out to himself. Riddle allegedly fled from police when they first tried to arrest him.

He’s facing 10 additional criminal charges in that case, including felony counts of burglary, forgery and bail jumping. The case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference in February.

Information from: Sheboygan Press Media, http://www.sheboygan-press.com

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