UNISON fraud investigation: Affidavit reveals $17K in office equipment unaccounted for

Laurie Lambach

MILWAUKEE -- New details have come to light in connection with fraud allegations against the president and CEO of a major charity in Milwaukee County. On Nov. 20, Laurene Lambach Gamling was arrested on suspicion of misappropriating funds from her nonprofit UNISON.

UNISON is contracted by Milwaukee County to run senior centers and help young families across the area. It formed in 2017, when Interfaith and SET Ministry merged.

Officials with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said money that Lambach signed off on for office equipment remains unaccounted for.


According to a search warrant affidavit, Lambach ordered $17,000 worth of Dell computers in December 2017, but the purchase was later cancelled and the computers were never delivered. Still, the organization received state and federal grant money for them.

Officials with the Milwaukee County Comptroller's Office said the audit division was first alerted to the alleged fraud in April by an anonymous tipster.

A spokesperson for UNISON said the organization was not aware of any criminal activity until Lambach's arrest during a fundraising meeting on Nov. 20. The board has since appointed two co-executive directors to take over Lambach's duties, while they conduct an investigation of their own.

On Monday, Nov. 26, officials with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's office sent an email to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors saying Nov. 20 was also the first they had heard about the allegations:

"We are currently examining the options we have and the best course of action during the investigation and afterwards. What we can tell you at this point is that misuse of public dollars will not be tolerated, and we must ensure that there is no interruption in service to seniors."

The search warrant affidavit also mentions three additional grant requests totaling $8,000. It's not clear how that money was used.

A spokesperson for UNISON said the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office will review the case in the coming days.