Not guilty plea entered in fraud allegation against former LADCO director

UPDATE: Suspect charged in Trempealeau County fatal crash

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A pre-trial conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. April 23 for Jorge Beltran, the former executive director of the La Crosse Area Development Corp. accused of defrauding the nonprofit of more than $30,000.

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The 53-year-old Beltran waived a preliminary hearing during a Zoom session with La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Ramona Gonzalez Wednesday. Beltran was mute, so the court entered a not guilty plea.
Gonzalez found probable cause and bound Beltran over for trial on the felony theft charge for which he was arrested on Jan. 26.
Beltran is accused of using his corporate credit card to make thousands of dollars in personal purchases, including items such as cake, beer and fishing equipment, according to the arrest report.
He also was accused of buying two electric scooters for $198 each and using the corporate credit card to pay a monthly violin rental fee at a La Crosse music store, as well as submitting moving expenses that more than $15,000 over the amount LADCO agreed to in his job offer.
LADCO noted the discrepancy in July and confronted him, hoping to resolve the issue without involving law enforcement. He was put on administrative leave, and later fired.
The board negotiated an agreement with him to pay $30,466.40 but contacted police in September because he hadn’t made any payments.
Beltran told police that many expenses labeled personal were business expenditures, but he agreed to take responsibility for them to avoid trouble with the LADCO board.
Gonzalez continued Beltran’s signature bond in advance of the preliminary hearing, with a status hearing scheduled for 2:30 p.m. May 18.