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COLUMBUS, Wis. (AP) — Police in south-central Wisconsin say the former executive director of an annual fair that draws horse enthusiasts from across the U.S. is facing charges for stealing money from the organization.

A Columbus police search warrant alleges that Rhonda Reese, 50, used Midwest Horse Fair’s account to make more than $200,000 in personal purchases, including her college tuition.

Columbus police Lt. Dennis Weiner told the Wisconsin State Journal that Reese was arrested Monday during a traffic stop in Columbus. She was released Thursday on a signature bond pending formal charges.

Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said she expects to file the charges in January. Weiner said those charges will include theft in a business setting greater than $10,000 and fraudulent writings.

Weiner said Reese is expected to return to court next month.

According to the warrant, Reese was the Midwest Horse Fair’s executive director from 2007 until July 2017. Megan Hanuszczak, former fair event coordinator and new executive director, told police that in February she discovered that Reese had written a check to herself from the fair’s account for several thousand dollars.

Hanuszczak said she reviewed other records and found that Rees had been “committing a large misappropriation of money.” She reported what she found to Pat Miller, the board chairwoman of the Wisconsin State Horse Council in late June. Reese was fired on July 5.

According to the warrant, Reese allegedly admitted to taking the money and said she planned to pay it back. She said she had hoped the matter could be kept confidential.

The Midwest Horse Fair board of directors voted to report the theft to police.

A message left on Reese’s cellphone by the newspaper Thursday was not immediately returned.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,