Eden Prairie Mayor Phil Young filed expense claims totaling nearly $1,000 for 26 meetings that he did not attend, including six that did not take place, City Hall records show.
The information, obtained from the city of Eden Prairie, adds more precise detail to the investigation into Young's expense claims.
City Hall records show that for 2008, 2009 and the first three months of this year, Young claimed $35 per diem amounting to $980 for 28 meetings of the Minnesota Regional Council of Mayors, which meets under the auspices of the Urban Land Institute in downtown Minneapolis.
But he attended just two of the 28 meetings, according to attendance records kept by the Land Institute.
Young, known for keeping a keen eye on city spending, has admitted to filing incorrect claims and faces a possible misdemeanor charge after Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman last week declined to charge him with a felony. Young asserted that he had attended many more meetings and functions for which he did not charge the city per diem.
The discrepancies in Young's expense claims were discovered by City Manager Scott Neal in the course of routine reviews of reimbursement forms. Neal approves all City Council expenses with a signature before sending them to payroll.
Each claim sheet carries the declaration: "I declare under penalties of perjury that this claim is just and correct and no part of it has been paid."
Shane Perry, Young's attorney, said the mayor "has accepted responsibility for the forms that are incorrect." That should settle the matter, Perry said.
Land Institute records show that six meetings that Young claimed to be at did not take place. The Council of Mayors regularly meets on the second Monday of each month, but some meetings get canceled. In 2009 meetings were not held in April, June, August or October, but Young claimed expenses for attending them. The other two canceled meetings for which he claimed per diems were in 2008.
Young also claimed $99 for mileage reimbursement in 2009 for driving 180 miles to five of the same mayors' council meetings that he did not attend, including two of the meetings that did not take place.
To avoid a conflict of interest, Plymouth police investigated the claims and submitted evidence to the county attorney's office. Last week Freeman said his office considered a charge of felony theft of public funds but declined to prosecute.
"Although his practice may evidence sloppy and inadequate bookkeeping, it didn't constitute intent to steal," Freeman said.
The faulty claims amount to a third of the reimbursement the mayor could have claimed for meetings and mayoral appearances, Perry said. The lawyer offered no evidence of other meetings, but said between late 2007 and early 2010, Young attended well over 100 functions for which he could have claimed per diem and did not.
Perry noted that Young went to China with the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce and did not bill the city for expenses relating to the trip.
City Hall records show that Young claimed expenses for eight to 15 meetings and functions a month between 2008 and earlier this year, including the Regional Council of Mayors meetings that he did not attend.
The Eden Prairie City Council has not discussed the investigation of Young's expenses.
After Freeman declined to file charges, Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein said he planned to ask the Plymouth city prosecutor to review the matter for possible prosecution as a misdemeanor. Proper procedure, however, requires the Eden Prairie prosecutor to review the case and decide whether to pursue it further, Goldstein said.
Eden Prairie's prosecuting attorney, Patrick Leach of Bonner & Borhart LLP of Minneapolis, said Tuesday that the case has not yet been forwarded to his office.
Young, an attorney in private practice, is a tax-conscious Republican. He is running for reelection in the fall.
Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711