GINCC employee arrested on embezzlement, other charges
By LISA BOWERS
Journal City Editor
ISHPEMING — The newly named director of the Greater Ishpeming -Negaunee Chamber of Commerce is expected to appear in court to face charges of embezzlement early next month.
Samantha LaJeunesse, 34, stands accused of stealing money from the GINCC, a nonprofit organization that serves businesses in the cities of Ishpeming and Negaunee as well as nine surrounding townships.
LaJeunesse was charged with three felonies on Nov. 15 in Marquette County District Court. The charges include one count of an agent or trustee embezzling $20,000 or more, one count of using computers to commit a crime, and one count of illegal sale or use of a financial transaction device or credit card according to online court documents.
Court records show the offense occurred on August 8. LaJeunesse was hired as GINCC director in June.
If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison, and or fines.
Arraignment is set for December 6 in 96th District Court before Judge Roger Kangas.
While GINCC officials did not name LaJeunesse in a post on Tuesday, an update on the case was provided on the organization’s Facebook page. The statement says, in part:
“We realize there are many questions regarding the unexpected closure. Following meetings and a review of available information at this time, the GINCC leadership is able to report that a financial breach was experienced resulting in funds being withdrawn from the organization’s bank account by an online entity,” the post said. ” In conducting a formal investigation, the Ishpeming Police Department has identified a person of interest employed with the organization in the case and has made an arrest.”
The GINCC office in Ishpeming has been closed since Sept. 28, a reopening date has not been announced.
“We appreciate your support as we work through this challenging event,” the Facebook post said.
Board Secretary and organization spokesperson, Nate Heffron issued a statement in a GINCC press release Tuesday afternoon.
“We appreciate the community’s support as we worked to clearly understand and respond to this challenging event,” Heffron said. “At this time, the GINCC leadership is working to support the investigation and outline next steps focusing on the future of the organization and the continuation of our mission. We extend our sincere gratitude to the Ishpeming Police Department for their swift response and efforts to investigate this matter.”
Heffron also noted that no organization or business is immune from such illegal activity.
“Financial breaches can happen at anytime. We encourage community members, businesses and other organizations to frequently monitor their finances so they can quickly identify and respond to these type of events,” Heffron said.
Questions about the organization can be emailed to email@example.com.