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Man's marriage to late spouse certified -- again

Proof and Hearsay

Crime, courts and legal issues in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin

Jan. 28, 2014

By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

Jan. 28, 2014 0

A Waukesha man who had his 1995 marriage to a woman who died in 2012 certified as legal last year is officially a widower again.

George Poniewaz thought he was married for years, then learned he wasn't, then got his perceived marriage certified after his wife had died, only to have a judge later suspend his certification when he learned in the Journal Sentinel that it could bear on a fraud charge against Poniewaz in another county.

The former truck driver for the city of Waukesha had to go before a different Milwaukee County judge this month, and prove all over again that he in fact got married to Jill Poniewaz in 1995.

Poniewaz's strange legal odyssey started after his wife died and he tried to get bereavement pay from his employer, the city of Waukesha. Officials said he wasn't entitled to the pay because he had said he was divorced. When he tried to prove he wasn't, his marriage license was proven to be a forgery, and he was charged with fraudulently obtaining years of benefits for his spouse.

So Poniewaz went to court in Milwaukee County to get a delayed certificate of marriage. Circuit Judge Kevin Martens heard from Poniewaz and other witnesses to a 1995 marriage ceremony and granted the certificate. But at the time, Martens didn't know about the pending criminal charges and was a little upset no one brought it up.

Martens suspended his order certifying the 1995 marriage and got off the case. Last week, Circuit Judge Jane Carroll heard Poniewaz's case and re-certified his marriage to Jill.

Two days later, Poniewaz filed a demand for speedy trial in the Waukesha County fraud case. It's set for trial Feb. 4.

Bruce Vielmetti thumbnail
About Bruce Vielmetti

Bruce Vielmetti writes about legal affairs.

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