Susan Fralick, the former Boscobel Chamber of Commerce secretary who was accused of taking approximately nearly $9,000 from the chamber to pay for personal expenses, pled no contest to one count of misdemeanor theft Tuesday in Grant County Circuit Court, part of an agreement to reduce the charge from a felony.
"I have no excuses," she told Judge Robert VanDeHey. "I know I hurt people who were not just my associates, but my friends as well….I just hope someday the wounds heal."
"I thank God I was caught," she continued, stating that the Bikers Helping Friends who first noticed how the disbanded group's funds were not being donated, which led to the investigation by the Chamber. "I was heading down the wrong path."
According to the case file, Susan had initially told chamber officers she had accidentally used the chamber's debit card for personal expenses, and reimbursed the chamber $2,700. It was after that admission that the chamber began looking into possible other charges.
According the report filed by Boscobel Police Officer Jeremy Klaas as part of the investigation, Fralick freely admitted using chamber funds for personal use. "She explained that she was facing financial hardship and multiple family crisis as a reason for her 'bad choices,’" Klaas wrote. He noted that among the expenses she used the chamber funds for were to bail her son out of jail on two occasions and pay her personal cellphone bill for several years, but most of the funds were for everyday expenses.
Back in February, Fralick had pled no contest to the misdemeanor that she took money, without authorization, from the group Bikers Helping Friends Wishes, which was disbanding and wanted to give their remaining funds to the Blaine Theatre renovation project. When the money was not officially acknowledged in the Boscobel Dial as part of the project's fundraising efforts, members of the club asked if the money had been given. That review showed that Fralick had taken funds from the club to cover personal expenses.
At the February plea on the Bikers Helping Friends Wishes funds, Judge Craig Day gave Fralick one year probation and 100 hours of community service for the theft of the now-disbanded group.
At the time of the plea hearing for the theft of the chamber money, Fralick had already paid back the remaining $7,200 she was believed to have taken from the chamber, which led District Attorney Lisa Riniker to reduce the charge to misdemeanor theft. Riniker stated the prosecution's request was for 90 days in jail.
Volunteering to speak on behalf of Susan was her husband, Stephen, who had filed to divorce her last fall due to the theft matters. Fralick said that Susan was devastated by what she had done, and the pain that she felt drove her to attempt suicide.
Susan’s life had turned chaotic in the time surrounding the charges. One of the reasons Susan had taken funds was to bail her child out of jail. Since then, Stephen said that Susan had a tumor removed from her back, and she found out she had cancer in her throat.
He said that the experience has been a trying time for them both. Stephen had filed for divorce last fall.
"We both made mistakes in our marriage," Stephen told the court. He said that they talked over Christmas, and things began to heal between them. He also stated that Susan was getting treatment for her mental health.
"I have forgiven her, and I hope she can forgive me," Stephen told the court. He said that she was truly loyal to her granddaughter, and continues to want to help out in the community any way she could. "Suzy is truly sorry and wants to take responsibility for her actions," Stephen said.
As for her own words, Susan took complete responsibility for what had transpired.
In his sentencing, VanDeHey stated that what Fralick had done was intentional, and it was a betrayal of trust over time with two different organizations. "The fact that you did this in a separate situation does require action," VanDeHey said.
VanDeHey said that in Fralick’s favor was that she has already paid back the Chamber the funds that she took went a long way in her favor, but she still had to answer for what she did.
"To not do anything would unduly lessen the act," VanDeHey said. He then sentenced her to 72 days in jail—one day for each $100 she took—but gave her Huber work release for the sentence. He noted that due to her special needs, the sheriff's department may determine to place her on electronic monitoring.
As far as when she needed to report, Susan asked for 30 days before starting her sentence, as she was currently watching her granddaughter, and that her current employer was going on vacation. VanDeHey required her to report Aug. 16.