2/23/12 – Former Carol’s Tour’s owner Deb Paul entered a “not guilty” plea during an arraignment hearing Wednesday. The 56-year-old closed the doors of the Beaver Dam travel agency four years ago, leaving as many as 200 paying customers without vacations. According to the criminal complaint, Paul described her business practice as (quote) “robbing Peter to pay Paul” using money from future trips to keep up with costs of funding the most recent vacations. In talking to investigators, Paul tried to pin her accounting practices on office manager Lisa Hopper and contacted Beaver Dam police shortly after the business closed to allege that Hopper had been embezzling money, which forced Paul to close the business. The 46-year-old Hopper told police that when the business was in danger of having trip tickets cancelled for lack of payment,
she was asked to cover it on her personal credit card then Hopper would be reimbursed the next month. Checks from the business were used to pay Hopper’s personal bills, as much as $90,000 went to pay her mortgage and credit cards. Hopper has already pled out and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of extended supervision and seven years probation. She still has around $70,000 in restitution to pay off. Meanwhile, investigators say Paul was paying all of her personal bills through Carol’s Tours, Inc in the years before the agency closed. She has a scheduling conference on the calendar next month. Paul faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, if she is convicted.