The former Park Falls Area Chamber of Commerce treasurer has been under investigation since August for allegedly misappropriating funds from both the chamber and the Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry.

According to Chamber President Tammy Hastings and Park Falls Police Chief Jerry Ernst, the investigation is ongoing.

“There aren’t any formal charges as of yet,” said Ernst.

The treasurer, who has not yet been identified due to lack of official charges or arrest, allegedly embezzled $40,000 from the chamber alone, said Hastings, and around the same amount from the Lord’s Cupboard pantry, which is located in Park Falls. Though there is no official total announced, Hastings said it is likely over $100,000 went missing from both organizations. The chamber is working with Forward Bank in this investigation.

Hastings said the chamber, along with the police department and the state Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), have been poring over the financial records.

She said that every single bill and financial record since 2019 disappeared.

“It’s made it really hard,” said Hastings. “We’ve spent literally, probably over 80 hours (searching for the records).”

Ernst said they continue to work with the city and the Lord’s Cupboard, “to get a full grasp” on the total amount embezzled.

According to Hastings, the misappropriated funds were allegedly spent for personal shopping. These funds all came from money donated by businesses from local events, and membership dues.

Hastings said she was made aware that the former treasurer has been willing to comply with the investigation, but has not heard anything since.

“We are waiting for something to be done,” she said.

The treasurer has been stripped of her duties as of August, and the chamber has been operating without an executive director since May 7. Kayla Myers is serving as interim treasurer. The chamber is now currently run by its volunteer board, and the office is short-staffed.

However, Hastings is optimistic that the chamber will continue to thrive and communicate with its members. She said a new code of conduct was created, and “we have extremely active members.”

A message was sent out to 187 businesses belonging to the chamber to assure them the organization is doing everything possible to keep their investments safe.

Ernst said it may be awhile before the case moves forward.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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