— A Brookfield man who stiffed contractors that worked with
him to build a new home for Lake Country Bible Church five years
ago admitted his guilt in court Friday.
Wahlgren, 56, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of theft by
contractor in a plea agreement that saw six other counts and one
uncharged incident dismissed and considered for sentencing.
to the plea agreement, if Wahlgren pays $75,000 in restitution
or something close to it by his Sept. 20 sentencing date, the
state will recommend a sentence of unspecified prison time on
one count and prison stayed in favor of probation on the other
two. If restitution falls short, the state will make an
“alternative recommendation,” court records indicate.
defense is free to argue its own sentence and any restitution
figure if if exceeds $75,000.
attorney Brent Nistler on Friday said, “I’ve got no comment,
thanks,” before hanging up on a phone call before a specific
question about the matter was asked.
to a criminal complaint, a Lake Country Bible Church official
reported to authorities the church contracted with Wahlgren to
be the general contractor for construction of its new church on
Watertown Plank Road in Nashotah. Wahlgren was to make
withdrawals from an account to pay subcontractors as needed, but
the complaint identified six instances where Wahlgren withdrew a
total of $466,912 to pay contractors, who later allegedly
reported they did not receive the payments.
one case, a contractor received a check for $39,600 from
Wahlgren, but then was asked not to cash it; the contractor
asked four times when the check could be cashed only to be told
Wahlgren did not have sufficient funds to cover it, the
contractor who was owed $30,000 tried to cash a $15,000 check
only to have it bounce a year after entering into the contract,
the complaint said. A roofing contractor reported it took
several calls to Wahlgren’s firm to get paid, and when they
finally got a check and went to cash it, they learned the firm
had put a “stop payment” order on it with no explanation,
the complaint added.
Cimpl with Precision Rail and Mfg. in Oak Creek, which also
worked with Wahlgren on a project that he said became
“unraveled,” told The Freeman his company paid about
$150,000 to Wahlgren, who never paid subcontractors, causing
them to seek payment directly from the company in a process
which “put us at a little disadvantage” amid a delayed
project and increased costs.