2/14/12 – The owner of a shuttered Beaver Dam travel agency will proceed to trial on charges that she closed the doors of the business without providing vacations to nearly 200 paying customers. A Dodge County Judge found probable cause yesterday (Mon) for Deborah Paul to be bound over for trial on two felony charges of Theft in a Business Setting. Her criminal complaint lists 194 people who paid a total of nearly $315,000 for vacations that were never arranged by Carol’s Tour’s between May of 2007 and February of 2008. According to the criminal complaint, the 56-year-old described her business practice as (quote) “robbing Peter to pay Paul” using money for future trips to pay for current trips. Paul blamed her office manager, Lisa Hopper, for the accounting practices. According to Hopper’s criminal complaint, Paul 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, Paul would reportedly ask her office manager to pay it on her personal credit card and 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, credit cards and even plastic surgery. Hopper has already pled out and will have to spend 18 months in prison, three years on extended supervision and seven years on 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. Paul will be arraigned a week from tomorrow and faces a total of 20 years in prison, if she is convicted.