Former IT specialist pleads not guilty to UW Oshkosh theft

Sophia Voight, Opinion Editor and Writer

Former UW Oshkosh IT Specialist Michael Van Vonderen pleaded not guilty to charges of theft of movable property from the university valued between $10,000 and $100,000 during an arraignment hearing in June.

Michael Van Vonderen has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft of movable property from the university valued between $10,000 and $100,000.

Van Vonderen attended the Zoom hearing over the phone on June 15 after the original arraignment was rescheduled from April 15 due to COVID-19 safety precautions.

If convicted, Van Vonderen could be fined up to $25,000, sent to prison for up to 10 years or both.

Additionally, he may be ordered to pay over $51,000 in restitution for the stolen items, an audit investigation and security measures implemented as a result of the charges, according to restitution requests filed by the Winnebago County Circuit Court on June 17.

According to documents filed by the county circuit court in November 2019, Van Vonderen confessed to stealing university equipment from offices and storage areas and selling them to local pawn shops.

During an investigation in September 2019, University Police detective Mike Bartlein found that Van Vonderen sold 115 items at seven pawn shops, receiving over $12,000 for cell phones and computer, photography and music equipment.

An internal audit of property that Van Vonderen had access to documented $28,788 worth of missing university items.

The audit found that 24 missing items were pawned by Van Vonderen; an additional eight pawned items were recovered by police and seven items from Polk Library checked out by Van Vonderen were not returned.

Van Vonderen admitted to stealing a classroom projector, two iPads from UWO’s Head Start program, new Dell laptops, two MacBooks, two monitors and an Apple TV when he handed in a resignation letter to IT Information Service Director Victor Alatorre in early September 2019.

He told Alatorre that he was resigning over financial troubles and admitted that he sold the stolen items to EZ Pawn and Pawn America for approximately $3,000.

Van Vonderen will appear in court again on August 27 at 2:45 p.m.