Former University employee arrested for theft, forgery

Former University academic professional Michael Wiersema was arrested Friday for forging pay requests even though he is no longer employed by the University. The charges of forgery and theft by deception amounted to over 10,000 dollars.

Sergeant Tom Geis of the University Police Department, or UPD, said Wiersema was working on field research involving seeds for the Crop Sciences department here at the University, usually a project that is worked on during the warmer months of spring and summer, but was released in 2008. Police said that he has been submitting pay requests to the University since 2009.

Geis said the Division of Public Safety was contacted by Human Resources after they had noticed some impropriety with the time cards. He said Wiersema was submitting pay requests in the months of January and February, which is very uncommon. Human resources declined to comment on the subject.

“When they say former, he really wasn’t fired or anything like that,” Geis said. “He is an academic hourly employee, and they are brought in to work on projects based on a need-basis. Back in 2008 and 2009 his help was no longer needed, but they can still stay on as an academic hourly employee in case (they are) ever needed to be brought back to work on a project.”

Wiersema took advantage of the employment and continued to forge pay requests even though he was not doing any type of work or research for the University. According to Geis, he has done this for the past three years. Once human resources located the discrepancies in the pay requests, they relayed the information to University police, and it was determined that the requests were forged.

Jeff Christensen, interim chief of University police, said that Wiersema could possibly be facing a Class I felony charge, which could lead to four to fifteen years in jail.

Christensen added that the Office of University Audits will also be a part of this investigation. The Office and UPD will be adamant in trying to find out how exactly this happened, as well as how to ensure something of this nature does not happen again.

Wiersema, a 33-year-old of Tolono, Illinois, was detained by University police Friday. According to a report issued Monday, the arrest took place on around 1:30 p.m. in the 600 block of Guardian Drive, where according to police, he was working at his current job.