A Waukesha city employee is facing charges after he allegedly lied about being legally married and collected benefits for her for four years.
George J. Poniewaz, 54, was charged Thursday in with one count of uttering a forgery and one count of filing fraudulent claims. If convicted, he faces nearly seven years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint:
In March, Poniewaz registered for funeral leave after he said his wife had died, but after human resources employees looked into his personnel file they discovered he was listed as divorced since 2007, which made him ineligible for spousal funeral leave. When confronted with the information, Poniewaz told officials the divorce never happened and he produced a copy of a marriage certificate he claimed showed he was married.
However, investigators discovered the document had been forged from a marriage certificate for his alleged wife’s daughter and son-in-law.
Poniewaz was hired by the city in 2002 and took out a life insurance policy in 2004 for him, his supposed wife and other dependants. From 2002 to 2006 $51,000 in claims had been paid out to his alleged wife, including $888 in claims for prescription drugs and medical costs.
He admitted to police he and the woman were never married, but she began to use his last name in 1994 or 1995. Poniewaz said he thought they were married via common law, but he was informed this wasn’t the case.
He told police he thought his alleged wife had made the marriage certificate and he found it.
He will make his initial appearance in court July 23.