Florence man gets prison for embezzling more than $40K

FLORENCE, WIS. — A 60-year-old Florence man was sentenced Tuesday to up to nine years in prison for stealing more than $40,000 from a former employer.

William Ray Joslin pleaded guilty in Florence County Circuit Court to one count of theft and two counts of forgery. In exchange for his plea, 23 other counts of forgery were dismissed.

Joslin will spend a minimum of four years in prison before being released into extended supervision. He also was ordered to pay $48,164.81 in restitution to Allen and Scott Waite, owners of American Dock Manufacturing.

Joslin was the office manager at American Dock for a combined total of 10 years and had long been a trusted friend of the Waites.

But when Joslin left the company in July 2018, his successor, Martin Siddons, discovered a number of checks bearing forged signatures — each made out to Joslin.

With help from the Florence County Sheriff’s Department and an accountant, the Waites identified 25 falsified checks totaling $43,785.81.

Joslin wrote the checks to himself but documented each in the company ledger as paid to a vendor.

Florence County District Attorney Douglas Drexler said although Joslin had almost no criminal record — only a misdemeanor for theft in 1989 — his actions threatened to put American Dock out of business and warranted a prison sentence.

Defense attorney Gregory Seibold said Joslin’s crimes were the result of compulsive behaviors born of persistent depression, adding Joslin took full responsibility for the thefts.

“He is determined, despite his age, to make his employer whole,” Seibold said.

Seibold suggested his client receive a one-year confined sentence with five years of supervision. If confined, Seibold said, Joslin wouldn’t be able to make restitution.

Joslin said in court he was ashamed of himself for his crimes against the Waites, describing them as family.

“They deserved better from me,” Joslin said.

Joslin then detailed his struggle with suicidal thoughts, anxiety and insomnia in the years since his 1992 diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

But Florence County Circuit Court Judge Leon Stenz dismissed Joslin’s diagnosis as a defense, saying his offenses were deliberate acts.

“Not everyone who has depression commits crimes,” Stenz said, later adding Joslin was only remorseful because he was caught.

Brian Christensen can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 29, or at bchristensen@ironmountaindailynews.com.