A man who received nearly $800,000 in error from the Minnesota Department of Revenue has been convicted of felony theft after allegedly spending the money. The 54-year-old man received the funds in the form of two state tax refund checks that were issued to him by mistake in 2008 as a result of an accounting error.
The state quickly realized the error and made repeated requests for the money to be returned, but the man allegedly refused to return the money. Instead, bank records reportedly show that he cashed the checks a week after receiving them and spent all of the money within months.
Rather than spending the ill-gotten funds on luxuries like a boat or fancy sports car, prosecutors say the defendant used the money to pay off debt. News reports indicate that he was on the hook for several hundred thousand dollars for breach of contract on a building project.
Sentencing will not occur until next month, but the man has already served 80 days in jail and lawyers involved in the case say the remainder of his sentence is likely to be stayed. This means that although the man may be sentenced to additional jail time, he may be able to avoid serving that time unless he violates his probation.
Even if his sentence is stayed, the man will still have a felony conviction on his criminal record, which can create complications in many areas of everyday life such as employment and housing. The state has also seized some of the man's remaining assets in order to recoup some of the money it lost.
Source: Duluth News Tribune, "Former Duluth businessman found guilty of stealing $800,000 from state," John Myers, Aug. 14, 2014