An Oakdale man has admitted stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars while he was treasurer for an amateur hockey organization, and then gambling at casinos in the hopes of repaying what he stole.
Steven R. Brier, 55, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in St. Paul to tax evasion and admitted that he stole about $384,000 from District 2 of what is now Minnesota Hockey, the state's primary organizing body for amateur hockey.
District 2 fields youth teams from Stillwater, Mahtomedi, St. Paul's Highland area, Mounds View, Oakdale, Roseville, White Bear Lake and Forest Lake.
According to the plea agreement:
As an unpaid treasurer for District 2 from April 2005 through September 2011 and with only one signature required on the checks issued from district accounts, Brier wrote numerous checks to himself without detection.
To make the checks appear legitimate, he noted on the memo lines, among other things, "scheduling" and "playoff expenses."
Over the years, Brier often gambled at casinos, attempting to win money so he could repay the association. While he paid back more than $81,000, he still owes $302,000 to District 2.
Brier evaded payment of federal personal income taxes from 2007 through 2010 and agreed that tax losses tied to the money he stole amounted to at least $68,000.
District 2 Director Michelle Merth said Wednesday that her organization "had measures in place" at the time [and] we have implemented more" since the losses were detected last year.
In addition to what Brier has paid back, the district has collected $50,000 from its insurer, Merth said. She said the district has been able to function normally despite being victimized.
As for Brier, Merth said she appreciates that he "has expressed remorse for what he has done" and is attempting to provide restitution in full.
Brier faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, as well as possible fines and orders of forfeiture. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482