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Former owner of electrical contractor pleads guilty in tax case

The former owner of an electrical-contracting company who was indicted last year for failing to pay payroll taxes has taken a plea deal.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin indicted Susan Wenszell in June on 15 counts of failing to account for and pay federal income taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes that she had withheld from her employees’ paychecks.

Wenszell was president and owner of the Milwaukee company J Wenszell Enterprises Inc., an outdoor electrical contractor formed by her husband and his brother, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

From the second quarter of 2012 through the fourth quarter of 2015, Wenszell withheld more than $1.2 million from her employees’ wages but paid only $13,966.88 to the IRS, prosecutors allege. Also, she withheld and failed to pay an additional $394,000 from 2010 to 2011 and failed to pay nearly $530,000 worth of the employer’s share of payroll taxes from 2010 to 2015.

Moreover, despite paying almost none of the payroll taxes she owed, Wenszell and her husband withdrew more than $1.1 million from their business to pay personal expenses, according to prosecutors.

Wenszell, represented by the federal defender Ronnie Murray, entered into a plea agreement, which was filed in court on Feb. 4. She pleaded guilty to one count of failing to turn over the payroll taxes she had collected from employees.

Wenszell also agreed to pay $2.2 million worth of restitution, an amount equal to the taxes she had collected from employees from 2012 to 2015 and then failed to turn over to the IRS.

In turn, federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining 14 charges.

Wenszell faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.

She will be sentenced May 28.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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