By Shereen Siewert
A Weston bar owner is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the Marathon County Tavern League’s operating fund, an alleged theft that was uncovered in July.
Wausau Pilot and Review first reported on the allegations in October when Dale Eaton, an attorney for the league, confirmed a former member was under investigation after financial irregularities suggested league funds were being used for individual use.
The former league member has now been publicly identified as Daniel T. Elliott, co-owner of Big Dan & Space’s Kelly Club, 4810 Ross Ave., Weston. Elliot was formally charged Tuesday, Dec. 17 in Marathon County Circuit Court with theft in a business setting greater than $10,000.
Elliott, of Weston, was voted off the board on July 24, after which the alleged irregularities came to light, according to an October statement by Atty. Eaton.
“Those allegations have resulted in the Marathon County Tavern League seeking assistance of local authorities, as well as retaining legal counsel for the zealous protection of the interests of its large membership,” Eaton said in October.
Members of the league were updated on the situation during a special meeting Oct. 7. According to a criminal complaint filed Dec. 17, Elliott admitted writing checks from the organization to cash and to the Kelly Club to pay bills, and is hoping to repay the Marathon County Tavern League about $100,000 after the sale of his house closes in late December, and plans to “make arrangements to obtain money for the remaining balance after that.”
Elliott told investigators he is also working to sell his interest in Kelly Club, court documents state.
The total amount allegedly shifted from the League is not clear in court documents, but includes $12,678 from the organization’s Safe Ride account. Elliott was the SafeRide coordinator for the Marathon County Tavern League from November 2013 to July 2019 and was responsible for the SafeRide checking account, according to the criminal complaint.
Elliott said no one, including his Kelly Club partner, knew about the thefts.
Eaton said the funds were allegedly diverted from the league’s general account. The Marathon County Tavern League, which comprises 98 businesses, is a member of the State of Wisconsin Tavern League. The local organization’s general fund, from which the alleged funds were taken, is independent of the state league.
After a forensic financial review, recommended charges were forwarded to the Marathon County District Attorney.
During an initial appearance Tuesday, Circuit Judge Jill Falstad ordered a $1,500 signature bond for Elliott, who is not currently in custody.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
A preliminary hearing for Elliott is set for Feb. 10.