What started as a ticket for violating a city ordinance metamorphosed into a felony case.
Kristine M. Henricksen, 65, Waupaca, was charged Feb. 3 with attempted bribery of a witness, harassment, disorderly conduct and misdemeanor theft.
She faces up to three years in prison if convicted of bribery, which is a felony offense.
On the morning of Dec. 20, 2013, Waupaca Police Officer Paul Benzschawel was called to Premier Community Bank on Furman Drive. He met with a bank employee who reported the theft of several items from a restroom.
The employee said the previous afternoon a woman entered the bank, wearing a large black coat, red hat and sunglasses and carrying a large purse. She allegedly went into the restroom for about 30 minutes, then drove away from the bank in a red van.
An employee who saw the woman enter the restroom thought her behavior was suspicious. She checked the restroom and discovered that several personal items were missing from a cabinet used by employees. The items included a hairbrush, a traveling case and some underwear.
A bank employee filled out a property non-consent form. The missing items were listed as having a total value of $25.
Benzschawel viewed a security video and identified the suspect as Henricksen. The van’s license plate was also registered to Henricksen.
Benzschawel then went to Henricksen’s home on South Washington Street. Although her van was in the driveway, her dog was in the back yard, and lights were on inside the house, Henricksen did not answer the door, according to the criminal complaint.
The officer made several attempts to contact Henricksen on Dec. 26-28, but was unsuccessful.
On Dec. 30, Benzschawel filed a citation against Henricksen in Waupaca County Circuit Court. The citation was not a criminal charge and would have resulted in nothing more than a fine.
On Jan. 3, Benzschawel received a message from another officer that Henricksen had called and complained that he issued the citation without first contacting her.
Benzschawel then called Henricksen, “who would not allow him to talk,” the complaint says. “Officer Benzschawel asked the defendant to stop talking and she would keep cutting him off so Office Benzschawel hung up.”
On Jan. 17, Waupaca Police Chief Tim Goke spoke to Premier Community Bank’s Waupaca branch manager after receiving a call from the city attorney, who said Henricksen had informed him that the bank was dropping charges.
The branch manager told Goke that Henricksen had entered the bank and told a teller she wanted to open an account. After she was led into a personal banker’s office, Henricksen allegedly demanded to know which employee had filed the complaint against her.
According to the criminal complaint, Henricksen said she would pay the bank $50 if they would agree to drop the charges and sign a written stipulation that she was “not guilty.”
The branch manager said bank employees wanted to drop the charges because they were tired of being harassed. She said Henricksen had been in contact with staff several times since the citation was issued. She said Henricksen was not welcome in the bank.
Benzschawel spoke with a regional manager with Premier Bank in Marion. The manager said Henricksen called her on Jan. 16 and offered to pay double the restitution to “make this go away” without a court case, the complaint says.
The regional manager said Henrickson called again the following day and demanded something in writing from the bank.
On Jan. 20, Henricksen went to Marion and spoke with the regional manager, saying she wanted the charges dropped and was not now willing to pay any money, the complaint says. She allegedly became agitated during their conversation and slapped the manager’s desk. The manager told her to leave.
Benzschawel continued trying to contact Henricksen in January, but she did not answer the door or return his calls.