Contractor guilty in fraud case

By BRIAN HUBER

June 22, 2019

WAUKESHA — 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.

Kevin 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.

According 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.

The defense is free to argue its own sentence and any restitution figure if if exceeds $75,000.

Defense 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.

According 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.

In 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 complaint said.

Another 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.

Dennis 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.