Ripon College’s ex-IT director allegedly stole more than $400,000 from school

FOND DU LAC – Computers, iPods, plane tickets and more. That’s just some of the items a former Ripon College employee allegedly bought for himself and others with the school’s money. In all, it adds up to $428,000.

Prosecutors say it took place over a 5-year period starting in 2009.

Ronald Haefner is now charged with using a Ripon College credit card to buy things for himself, his family and even gifts for another college. That college is headed by a former Ripon College president.

The criminal complaint is a laundry list of purchases 18 pages long. Items range from iTunes purchases to thousands of dollars for Apple computers.

“It’s a significant amount of money, we’re looking at over $400,000,” said Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney.

Prosecutors say Ronald Haefner also used the college credit card to pay for things like car insurance policies and even a $1,600 belly ring.

Often times, prosecutors say he would nearly max out the $5,000 monthly limit. That left little money for other department expenses.

In court Friday, Haefner was charged with more than 60 felony and misdemeanor counts of theft and credit card fraud.

“There were numerous credit card transactions since 2009, thousands upon thousands of dollars,” said Toney.

Those transactions were discovered by Ripon College officials last November.

We asked Ripon College how the purchases could go unnoticed for so long. A spokesperson would only say there are controls in place.

Through a statement the spokesperson also said: “When we determined fraudulent activity we terminated the individual, alerted the authorities and have been cooperating with the ongoing investigation ever since.”

Some of the purchases Haefner made were donated to Brevard College in North Carolina. The president of the college is David Joyce, the former president at Ripon College.

In the complaint, Joyce told investigators Haefner was “called Santa Claus because he would just come and give them boxes of things including Apple products, cameras and other electronic items.”

Joyce said in an email to FOX 11 on Saturday, “We were both surprised and disappointed to learn that the gifts given to Brevard College were inappropriately procured from Ripon College. We have been working with both the Ripon City Police Department and Ripon College throughout this investigation. All of the items in question have been returned.”

Haefner was employed by the college from 1999 until he was fired last November.

He’s currently being held in the Fond du Lac County jail on a $250,000 cash bond.

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