Women charged with stealing from soccer club appear in court

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Two women charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a soccer club appeared before a judge for the first time on Monday, February 24th.

Investigators say more than $80,000 was pocketed by former leaders of the New Berlin Soccer Club -- a division of the "Milwaukee Kickers."

42-year-old Melanie Gretzon and 42-year-old Barbara Olson were charged on February 11th -- accused of taking the money intended to be spent on things like referees, soccer vendors and other game costs.

Gretzon faces four counts of theft - business setting over $10,000, and one count of misdemeanor theft.

Olson faces one count of theft - business setting over $10,000.

The theft was reported to authorities by the executive director of the Milwaukee Kickers, which has 13 satellite clubs, including the New Berlin Soccer Club.

The theft was reported in April of 2013.

A criminal complaint in the case says Gretzon was in charge of the club's checking account and responsible for paying officials, vendors and other fees involving the club.

On April 12th, 2013, it was discovered Gretzon was using the checking account for personal use. This, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint says Gretzon had a second checking account called "MK Alliance" that also showed unauthorized use.

Later in April, a past president and current board member of the soccer club provided a list of unauthorized transactions completed by Gretzon, according to the complaint.

The complaint indicates authorities spoke with Olson -- who was the president of the club back in 2009 when Gretzon was treasurer. The complaint says Olson told officials she had received bank statements as part of her resopnsibilities as club president and noticed several purchases made using a debit card between September and November of 2009.

The complaint says Olson told officials she spoke with Gretzon about the purchases and said she should "take care of them."

Officials learned there were three debit cards issued to the New Berlin Soccer Club -- the first in Olson's name, and the other two in Gretzon's name. The debit cards were apparently only to be used in an emergency situation where a check could not be written, according to the complaint.

The complaint says officials examined bank statements and determined that from August to December of 2009, Gretzon conducted unauthorized transactions 21 times for food items at places like Starbucks, Pick 'n Save, and McDonalds, 16 times for gas and automotive needs, 21 times for retail or internet items at places like Amazon, Justice and Hal's Harley-Davidson, seven times for sports and entertainment at places like the Milwaukee Kickers, Brookfield Indoor Soccer and Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association, and one time for cash, resulting in 65 transactions totaling over $12,000.

The complaint says in 2010, there were 93 transactions, for a total of over $24,000.

In 2011, there were 105 transactions, for a total of over $20,000. In 2012, there were 77 transactions, totaling over $11,000.

In January, February and March of 2012, there were 13 transactions totaling over $1,600.

The criminal complaint says the total amount taken was over $70,000, and it was taken between 2009 and 2013.

In this case, Olson is accused of writing checks to herself for personal use -- 10 checks, totaling $12,000. A criminal complaint says she admitted to doing this between 2008 and 2010.

The complaint says Olson told officials she attempted to confess to the theft to Gretzon back in late 2009, but Gretzon told her they didn't want to make a big deal out of it, and Olson was dismissed from the soccer club in early 2010.

The soccer club is comprised of boys and girls, ages seven to 18. The club's executive director says because the crime took place over a series of years, there was no impact to the soccer players.

In court on Monday, both women were given signature bonds, and both were ordered to have no contact with the New Berlin Soccer Club or with each other.