A former Pierce County Sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony theft in Pierce County Circuit Court Friday, Dec. 22.
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 early September.
In late August, 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 Spring Valley Police Department Cenex Station gas card.
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. However, when given the option, the complaint states, the Village Board declined a civil agreement and pursued criminal charges.
The discrepancy was noticed when the Village of Spring Valley tightened bookkeeping procedures in 2015, which eventually led to Jaeger's arrest in September.
According to the complaint:
After watching surveillance footage from the Cenex Station where the gas card was issued, Spring Valley Police Chief John DuBois, who took over as Chief in May 2013, believed Jaeger was responsible for the unverified charges.
The department has two Cenex cards — one for each squad car, but DuBois noticed the unverified charges were on a third, unknown card. He told authorities he learned the card was opened in October 2009.
To avoid a conflict of interest, DuBois asked the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office to take over the investigation.
Jaeger agreed to meet with St. Croix County investigators when informed of the criminal investigation.
He told investigators his personal use began as a mistake, a card in his wallet was identical to the police department's replacement card issued in October 2009.
When the original card was found, Jaeger said he kept the replacement and when no one realized his personal charges, the charges continued.
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 is scheduled to make his next court appearance Jan. 23.