By Tim Leeds
The former treasurer of a local chapter of Walleye Unlimited has been charged with embezzling more than $20,000 from that group and an associated state group.
Hill County Attorney Dave Rice on Tuesday charged Douglas Komrosky, treasurer of the Fresno Chapter of Walleye Unlimited and the director of the Montana Walleye Circuit, with felony theft by unauthorized control. Hill County Justice Lane Hauge issued a warrant for Komrosky's arrest this morning, with a bail of $5,000.
The maximum penalty for the charge is up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
According to a criminal complaint filed in court, about $17,500 was taken from the local group and the rest was taken from Walleye Circuit.
Mike Barthel, president of the Fresno Chapter, said today that the money taken was a significant amount for the club. The Walleye Unlimited money would have been used for improvements at Fresno Reservoir, and the Walleye Circuit money is used to fund fishing tournaments around the state.
The community donates to the Fresno Chapter during fund-raisers and at the annual banquet in March, Barthel said.
"It's money that the community had put forth," he said.
The complaint says Komrosky wrote checks or made transfers totaling $20,809.47, beginning in 1998, that were deposited in his personal account or used to pay his personal debts. Komrosky a sheriff's deputy that he was paying the money back to the organizations, the complaint said.
Barthel said that when he took over as president of the Fresno Chapter on Jan. 1 he wanted to make sure all of the books were correct.
"I just wanted a clean slate when I took over as president and started checking the books," said Barthel, who is a Havre police captain.
After finding discrepancies, Barthel said he began looking into details about canceled checks and transfers in the chapter's bank account.
Barthel contacted Hill County sheriff's deputy Monte Reichelt on March 20 to report the loss of the groups' money, the complaint said.
Reichelt spoke to Komrosky about the money on April 2 at the Hill County Sheriff's Office, the complaint said. Komrosky told the deputy that he was putting $2,000 to $3,000 back each year when he received his tax returns, according to the complaint.
He said he repaid some of the money by putting it into a raffle bag because that would be the hardest account to audit, the complaint said.
Komrosky said he also paid Walleye Unlimited back with a $900 trolling motor in 1998 and a $1,000 trolling motor in 2000, the complaint said.
Komrosky made three large deposits into his personal account in March 2000, 2001 and 2002, and the last two had "tax refund" written on the deposit slips, the complaint said. Reichelt did not find any large withdrawals to account for the money Komrosky claims to have paid back, according to the complaint.
Since Komrosky claims to have made the payments to the clubs in cash, the amount can't be verified, the complaint added.
The club has been tracking the amount received in the March raffles for about five years, Barthel said, and there has been no significant fluctuation in the amount received.
It comes to about $5,000 each year, the complaint said.
Komrosky, who was inducted into the Montana Walleye Hall of Fame in 2000, told the deputy he began taking money from the groups in 1998 to support his hobbies, the complaint said. He said he missed the money he once received from the National Guard, which he left in 1997, the complaint said.