A heating and plumbing company owner in northern Wisconsin is facing charges of stealing more than $131,000 from his wife’s deceased uncle’s estate.
Zygmund Jablonski Jr., 53, of Ashland, was named as the personal representative for his wife’s uncle, James Sanders, who died in 2007, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday by the state Department of Justice. When Sanders died, he had at least $162,000 in the bank.
Between 2008 and 2012, Jablonski allegedly wrote $159,300 worth of checks from Sanders’ estate to himself and his Ashland-based company, A to Z Plumbing & Heating Inc.
According to the complaint, some of those checks were characterized as “loans.”
When the alleged thefts came to light in 2012, Jablonski was removed as the estate’s personal representative, and the estate demanded he pay the money back. According to the complaint, which was filed by Bonnie Struska, the new representative of the estate, Jablonski has paid back $27,850, but not the remaining $131,450.
Jablonski is charged with theft by trustee or bailee. If convicted, he faces as many as 10 years in prison.
His next court date is Thursday in front of Ashland County Circuit Judge Robert Eaton.
Still, Jablonski, reached by phone Friday, said he has since paid back all of the money. He said the charge is not surprising because he met with Justice Department officials about a month ago and has cooperated and taken full responsibility.
However, he said the investigation happened because he did not know the law regarding borrowing money from an estate.
“It was a loan that was made, and obviously I’ve cooperated with them from day one,” Jablonski said. “I thought I could do it as an executor of an estate.”
Court records show Jablonski has not yet paid $99,862.31 in tax warrants filed against him this year by the Department of Revenue. His company also has two delinquent unemployment tax warrants.Follow @eheisigWLJ