The former treasurer of the Eau Claire firefighters union is accused of stealing more than $18,000 in union funds.

William R. Drath, 54, 2622 Marilyn Drive, is charged in Eau Claire County Court with three felony counts of theft in a business setting.

A date for an initial court appearance has not been set.

According to the criminal complaint:

Board members for Eau Claire Fire Department Local 487 contacted police in September 2017 because they suspected embezzlement activities by Drath, the former union treasurer.

Drath retired as union treasurer shortly after the embezzled money was discovered.

Drath served as treasurer from 2006-16.

The new treasurer noticed irregularities in the union’s 2016 financial audit.

The new treasurer asked Drath about the irregularities. Drath said the numbers never quite added up.

Drath said he would “fudge” the numbers to make them work.

Drath provided credit card statements from the previous year. He told the new union president he made a few purchases using the union’s Capital One credit card.

An investigation showed Drath opened the credit card under both his name and Local 487, and the statements were delivered to his home address.

Drath had sole access to the card and its intended purpose was for union functions.

While other union members would occasionally take the card to union conferences, Drath controlled and paid the credit card balances from the Local 487 checking account through Marine Credit Union.

Drath also told the new treasurer he made about $3,000 in purchases on the union credit card that were for his personal expenses.

When asked if more personal charges occurred prior to 2016, Drath said “not to my recollection.”

Union members then reviewed credit card and bank statements that were available from 2011 to 2016 and more unauthorized transactions were discovered.

An Eau Claire police detective discovered a significant number of fraudulent transactions involving union money. The transactions involved Drath’s personal credit cards for his own expenses.

Drath did not have permission to pay for his personal expenses with union money.

Police discovered Drath took $18,658 from union coffers from 2011-16. That included $74 in 2011, $122 in 2012, $5,569 in 2013, $5,772 in 2014, $3,882 in 2015 and $3,241 in 2016.

In analyzing the union’s accounting software, police determined Drath either vaguely labeled transactions or entered false information to cover up his embezzlement.

Drath attempted to give the new union treasurer a $10,000 check in November 2017 related to his personal expenses. The new treasurer declined the check because the matter was under investigation.

Police examined more than 2,600 pages of records during this investigation.

If convicted of all three charges, Drath could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Contact: 715-833-9207, dan.holtz@ecpc.com