An Eau Claire woman accused of preying on a former La Crosse Catholic priest’s compassionate nature by bilking him out of $317,883.60 faces a maximum of 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to six counts of theft by false representation.continue at La Crosse Tribune
Cheri M. Hofkes-Zerwas, 54, had wanted to plead no contest Friday to 23 identical counts of theft of more than $10,000 in the case, in which she was charged with stealing the money from the Rev. John Schultz on several occasions between June 2013 and June 2014.
Eau Claire County Assistant District Attorney Meri Larson spurned that possibility. After consulting with her attorney, Hofkes-Zerwas agreed to plead guilty.
She was found guilty of the six counts, with 17 others dismissed but read into the record for possible consideration at sentencing.
The Diocese of La Crosse issued a statement:
On behalf of Father John Schultz, a well-respected Eau Claire priest, we are pleased to learn that late Friday afternoon, March 6, 2015, Cheri Hofkes Zerwas admitted her wrongdoing and pled guilty to the crime of theft by false representation. Although an arduous process thus far, we are relieved by Ms. Hofkes-Zerwas’ acceptance of responsibility for her victimization of Father Schultz. We thank all those involved in the investigation and prosecution of this matter, especially both Detective Michael Voelker and Assistant District Attorney Meri Larson. Until such time that the case is concluded, no further statement will be made.