A Village of Spring Valley procedural change enacted in 2015 requiring receipts for purchases made with a village credit card resulted Monday, Sept. 11 in felony charges against a recently resigned Pierce County deputy.
Robby Joel Jaeger, 35, who worked as a Spring Valley police officer until November 2012, was charged with felony theft as well as unauthorized use of a Village of Spring Valley credit card, according to a criminal complaint filed in Pierce County Circuit Court.
Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove informed RiverTown Multimedia via email that Jaeger, a Spring Valley resident, had resigned his position as deputy sheriff effective Aug. 24. No reason was given.
From the time Jaeger left the Spring Valley Police Department through mid-August, the complaint states, he charged $8,407.50 in unauthorized purchases to a Cenex Station card issued to the Spring Valley Police Department.
According to the complaint:
After the Village of Spring Valley required receipts for village purchases — in contrast to previous practices — each month has turned up missing receipts for items purchased with the police department's Cenex Station gas credit card.
The department has two Cenex cards — one for each squad car, but Spring Valley Police Chief John Dubois noticed the unverified charges were on a third, unknown card. Dubois told authorities he learned the card was opened in October 2009.
Dubois, who began his tenure as chief in May 2013, after watching surveillance footage from the Cenex Station where the gas card was issued, believed he had identified Jaeger's truck at the pump at the time the purchases were made.
Dubois then asked St. Croix County Sheriff's Office to handle the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest for his department or the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.
Jaeger agreed to meet with St. Croix County investigators after he was informed of the criminal investigation.
Jaeger said the first time he used the card for personal use — sometime in 2011 or 2012 — was an accident. The card, which was issued as a replacement in October 2009, was identical to one in his wallet, he explained.
The original card was later discovered and Jaeger said he kept the replacement card in his possession.
Once he realized no one discovered the mistake, the charges continued.
Jaeger told investigators he'd write a check for the full amount to avoid embarrassing his family, as well as the police department and sheriff's office. His wife Bobbie Jaeger serves on the Spring Valley School Board.
"It was like I forgot about it," Jaeger said when asked why he continued to make unauthorized charges.
While the case is being tried in Pierce County, St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes has been assigned as special prosecutor.
Both theft — movable property $5,000 to $10,000 and unauthorized use of an entity's identifying information or documents are Class H felonies. The maximum sentence for each felony is six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Jaeger, who has also served as the Pierce County Peace Officers Benevolent Association president for a few years, is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Nov. 2.