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Ellsworth woman pleads guilty to embezzlement

An Ellsworth woman accused of embezzling more than $300,000 from a River Falls care facility was convicted this week in St. Croix County Circuit Court.

Elizabeth A. Palo, 50, pleaded guilty Tuesday, Dec. 5, to one count of felony theft as part of a plea agreement that calls for three other identical counts to be dismissed.

Palo was charged in April with stealing from her former employer, Kinnic Health and Rehab, a rehabilitation and skilled nursing care facility physically adjoined to River Falls Area Hospital. St. Croix County Assistant District Attorney Erica Ellenwood said at the hearing that the total amount to be repaid is $310,000.

Ellenwood said she will be recommending a maximum prison term of three years, along with six years on extended supervision. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman ordered a Department of Corrections pre-sentence investigation, which will include sentence recommendation.

According to a criminal complaint, the embezzlement was uncovered in March by a corporate audit, which revealed Palo had created a fake account that, using a patient's name, was made to appear legitimate. Funds were deposited in the fake account under the false name and checks were made out to Palo, who would cash them, the complaint states.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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