By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A former accountant at a Stratford construction company is accused of stealing more than $155,000 from the business by issuing duplicate paychecks to herself and issuing unauthorized advances and bonuses.

Cora Karpinski, 48, of Trego faces felony theft charges filed Tuesday in Marathon County Circuit Court. The charges were filed six weeks after the owner of the business contacted police about the suspected theft. Court documents show the business owner hired an outside accountant to investigate the company’s financial records and document the suspected losses.

According to a criminal complaint, Karpinski regularly issued duplicate paychecks to herself, placing them in a stack of outgoing checks to be signed by the business owner, who did not immediately notice the deception. Karpinski also gave herself unauthorized time off without pay and reimbursed herself for private cell phone bills, police said.

Court documents did not state how long Karpinski worked at the business. The total loss including fees paid for outside accounting services is estimated at $169,521.79.

Karpinski appeared Tuesday in Marathon County Circuit Court for an initial appearance and was released on a $20,000 signature bond. She faces up to 10 years in the Wisconsin Prison System and a $25,000 fine if she is convicted of the single felony theft charge.

A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 15.