Mayor of Good Thunder charged with embezzlement and theft
GOOD THUNDER, Minn. (KEYC) -On October 19, the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office conducted multiple search warrants, looking for documents. The state auditor’s office received a tip of on alleged financial conflicts of interest by the mayor of Good Thunder.
“There were some concerns that had come to light about comingling of personal and official city business on the part of the Good Thunder Mayor Robert Anderson,” captain of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office Paul Barta said.
Five days later, Anderson was charged with seven counts including felony embezzlement and theft. If convicted, some of the maximum sentences carry up to ten years, however under the Minnesota sentencing guidelines these charges would not warrant prison but jail time.
“If you look at this and it is a public trust situation then you should make sure that the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed,” Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott said.
In a show of support of their 30-year mayor a record number of residents showed up to a city council meeting last month, questioning the legitimacy of these charges.
“No way,” Good Thunder resident Jim Day said. “False. Unfounded. There is nothing. I don’t believe it for a second.”
Supporters also referenced what they say the mayor has done for the town of about 500.
“He is a person who is really involved in his community,” Good Thunder water treatment facilities operator Brian Severns said. “He is proud of the work that he does to take care of things that have needs in the community. Snow removal, things like that at his own expense.”
One thing Anderson is doing is building a gas station, which he and his family have named Red Iron, for the town after the only other gas station ran out of fuel. Now, the construction of the gas station is part of the case against him.
According to the criminal complaint, Anderson “may have benefited from a city project as a subcontractor, and the City paid $24,671.30 for concrete materials that were shipped to Anderson’s business location paying for certain non-City expenses.”
Robert Anderson’s son, Jason, was the primary contractor and says deliveries for the city would go to his business. Also according to Jason Anderson, concrete for a city sidewalk and retaining wall project listed the gas station as the address, but those bills were set aside for investigation.
“The city council has already talked about the concrete and the fact that the concrete has been measured twice and determined that it is exactly where it is supposed to be,” Robert Anderson said.
The office of the state auditor noted that the city did pay the $24,671.30 for the concrete materials that was shipped to the business location but quote " the City has not produced documentation demonstrating how much of this amount, if any, was for legitimate City expenses.”
“It is one of those situations that they just need to take a step back and say from the very beginning is there a potential conflict of interest,” McDermott said. “Is this something that I should follow up with and talk to the city attorney with? I think there were some conversations with the city attorney, but I have not been privy to those kinds of things.”
With the criminal case moving through the courts - Anderson is due back in court in January. First, voters will decide if he remains their mayor at the polls.
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