Oct. 13--EAU CLAIRE -- An Eau Claire man will spend four years on probation for emptying a 13-year-old girl's bank account as a guardian and exposing his three children to methamphetamine.
Thaopao Vang, 35, 606 Marshall St., pleaded no contest this week in Eau Claire County Court to a felony count of theft, three misdemeanor counts of neglecting a child, and unrelated felony counts of bail jumping, possession of methamphetamine and methamphetamine delivery.
As conditions of probation, Judge Emily Long ordered Vang to undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and any programming or treatment recommended by his probation agent, and paying an undetermined amount of restitution.
Vang cannot have contact with Associated Bank, the Eau Claire County Clerk of Juvenile Court and Register in Probate, and his children -- unless approved by the Eau Claire County Department of Human Services.
According to the criminal complaint in the theft case:
Eau Claire police were sent to the Eau Claire County Register in Probate and Juvenile Court office Nov. 13 on a report that Vang fraudulently withdrew nearly $37,000 from a Bank Mutual, now Associated Bank, account.
Vang was established as the guardian of the estate for the child, now 13, who is the ward on the account because she is a juvenile.
The child's mother died and left $20,000 in the form of a life insurance benefit, as well as a Social Security benefit of $765 a month. The funds were not accessible to the child until age 18.
Vang was appointed guardianship of the child on Oct. 6, 2016.
At that time, Vang was required to report the amount of funds in the account. The funds were then verified by the Register in Probate and Juvenile Court office.
Vang was not granted access to withdraw from the account. The courts placed conditions that the money was not to be used for day-to-day expenses. It was to be used for ward purposes until the child turned 18, and that the courts must approve of any money withdrawn.
The account had grown to $36,988 as of Sept. 30, 2018.
County officials found a withdrawal of $31,515 from the account on Oct. 31, 2018.
Additional withdrawals were made in subsequent months. On April 1, 2019, county officials were able to confirm the account was empty.
County officials believe that when Bank Mutual became Associated Bank, the uniform transfer to minors act that Vang signed must have been mistakenly discontinued.
Vang was ordered to come before the court to explain the withdrawals. After missing his first court hearing, Vang advised the court he spent the money on food and had not replaced the money at that time.
An investigation showed Vang withdrew the money between Oct. 12, 2018, and Jan. 23, 2019. Police determined the total amount stolen by Vang was $34,988. He did not have court permission to withdraw any of the money.
According to the criminal complaint in the child neglect case:
A police officer and social worker visited Vang's residence Dec. 7, 2018, on a report that he was exposing his three children, ages 5 to 11, to meth.
Meth and a pipe used to inhale the drug were found in the bathroom. Hair follicle tests of all three children were positive for the presence of meth. Various items of drug paraphernalia were found in the residence.
One of the children told authorities Vang uses meth in the bathroom and downstairs storage area, and that Vang uses the family's "survivor money pay" on drugs.
When the money is received each month, Vang takes it from the mailbox, "tells us to be quiet," and leaves all night, the child said. Vang and a cousin use meth together and that the cousin supplies the drug.
The child said people she did not know frequently visit their residence and stay overnight.
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