Charge: Former diocese employee stole more than $83K
WINONA — A former employee of the Catholic Diocese of Winona faces multiple felony charges after authorities say she stole more than $80,000 from the organization.
Rose Anne Hammes, 55, now of Kansas City, Mo., made her first appearance earlier this month in Winona County District Court, where she's been charged with four counts of theft by swindle.
Hammes was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court Jan. 10.
The investigation began in March 2016, when officials with the diocese contacted Winona police.
Hammes worked for the diocese from April 2004 to August 2010, when she moved to Kansas, then Missouri. She came to the attention of the church officials when they learned she'd been charged with theft from her Kansas employer — the Archdiocese of Kansas City.
Local diocesan officials initiated an audit of the organization's records dating from July 2008 and August 2010, which confirmed at least 21 invoices Hammes submitted for reimbursement were fake or altered, the criminal complaint says.
The total Hammes received in reimbursement from the Winona diocese as a result of allegedly fraudulent invoices was $83,752.24.
Investigators found bank records that corresponded to the transactions, court documents say, though some of Hammes' former accounts were closed after she moved, and the records were purged.
According to the court paperwork, Hammes received reimbursements totaling $38,722.76 from July 2008 through October 2008; $7,295.51 from January 2009 through June 2009; $7,600.60 from October 2009 through March 2010; and $30,433.37 from April 2010 through August 2010.
She apparently continued the pattern when she moved to Kansas and worked for the archdiocese there, records show.
The Wyandotte County prosecutor's office said more than $116,000 was taken between 2010 and 2014.
Hammes served as the director of communications and pastoral planning for the archdiocese from September 2010 through April 2014, when the theft was discovered.
According to a statement from the archdiocese at the time, the Wyandotte County district attorney's office was notified when the archdiocese discovered "financial irregularities in April 2014. The archdiocese contacted law enforcement because it believed it was the victim of fraud and had suffered a sizable loss, in excess of $100,000."
In the Winona Diocese, she served as director of communications, purchased technology and was also editor of the diocesan newspaper, The Courier , from June 2004 until she left to work for the Kansas City archdiocese.
Hammes started her career in the Diocese of La Crosse as a writer and advertising saleswoman for the diocesan newspaper in 1985 — the same year her father was murdered in a Wisconsin church.
William Hammes, a custodian at St. Patrick's Church in Onalaska, Wis., was killed Feb. 7, 1985, when Bryan Stanley walked into the church and opened fire with a shotgun. Also killed that day were Ferdinand Roth Sr., a parish lay minister, and the Rev. John Rossiter, the parish priest.
According to court documents in Kansas, Rose Hammes filed for bankruptcy in June 2015.