Former Eau Claire county treasurer Larry Lokken was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for his role in stealing more than $625, 000 from the county. As part of his sentence, Lokken must pay restitution. Fox 25-48’s Amanda Tyler and Jesse Horne have more.
Bob– in a victim’s statement in court, the Eau Claire County board chair called this case the largest violation of public trust in Eau Claire County. In court, Judge Jon Theisen said Lokken deserved swift and strong punishment for the theft and misconduct in office.
It’s a case that Eau Claire County district attorney Gary King says police have spent over one thousand hours investigating. Today, Judge Jon Theisen sentenced former county treasurer Larry Lokken to nine and a half years in prison for his role in stealing more than $625, 000 from the county over several years. After hearing from both sides, Judge Theisen says his goal in sentencing is to begin restoring public trust.
“Respectfully sir, you are in need of punishment to attempt to put back in balance scales of justice which a cynical, jaded public rightfully no longer trusts.”
During his part of the arguments–district attorney Gary King called the case a “black eye” for the county,
saying it has prevented certain parts of the county from functioning properly.
“The pain is not forgotten, it’s a permanent part of history but you move forward and you try to do things to make sure that this type of injury doesn’t happen again. In my opinion that’s what the county has done, is doing and will continue to do”
While King talked about the impact on the county, during victim’s statement’s Eau Claire County board chair Gregg Moore addressed how the county plans to get the stolen money back.
“I expect Mr. Lokken to take full responsibility for his crimes and do all he can to repay Eau Claire County for the stolen money.”
Moore and district attorney King say in addition to the $625, 000 Lokken must repay to the county, the county is also looking to collect another $762, 000 it says Lokken and Onarheim stole that money before 2011, although that claim has not factored into any criminal charges.
Following today’s proceedings we did reach out to the key players. For more on that part of the story here’s FOX 25/48s Jesse Horne.
“Larry Lokken has committed arguably the highest violation of public trust in Eau Claire County.”
Eau Claire county board chair Gregg Moore was the only witness to offer a verbal statement in the courtroom and his disgust over Lokken’s crimes was evident.
“It’s just going to take time, I think. But, I do know that our staff and our elected officials are committed to continue to provide great services to the citizens of the county.”
With the impending sentencing of Lokken’s deputy set for early March, Moore and other county officials are waiting until the legal process is complete before sharing their side of this sordid story.
“In terms of telling the story about what we learned and when, it really goes to some degree to the criminal case and in respect for the criminal justice process, here in the state of Wisconsin and in our country, it’s in respect for that that we’re holding off for the press conference until after the sentencing of Kay Onarheim.”
The process for people living in the county to regain trust in their government began late this morning, as the county’s district attorney equated the effect of Lokken’s actions to a black eye.
“It’s very clear how significant the set of conduct was here, especially with respect to having a position like Mr. Lokken had. It’s a position of trust. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with that. When it’s violated in the manner that he did, it’s significant.”
We did reach out to Lokken’s attorney – William Laman – but have not yet received any comment.
Kay Onarheim’s sentencing is set to start March 3rd,
In Eau Claire, Jesse Horne, FOX 25/48 News at 9.