Ex-Shakopee schools Superintendent Rod Thompson, accused of embezzling more than $70,000 in public funds, is now facing federal bribery charges after authorities say he coerced a construction company into renovating his basement in exchange for school contracts.
An FBI investigation found that Thompson used his position of authority to obtain personal benefits from a contractor for the Shakopee School District — namely, he “solicited home improvement projects, personal travel, and attendance at sporting events in exchange for contracts” with the district, U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald announced Tuesday.
Thompson, 53, has been charged with one felony count of corrupt solicitation of a bribe. According to the criminal complaint, Thompson over a period of six years sent bills to the company for tickets to Vikings, Timberwolves and Twins games; martial arts events and luxury hotels totaling more than $5,000.
The embattled schools chief is already awaiting trial in Scott County District Court on 20 felony charges, including six counts of theft by swindle, 13 counts of embezzlement of public funds and one count of possession of stolen property, plus one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property.
A plea hearing on those charges scheduled for Tuesday afternoon was postponed until next Monday. Thompson’s attorney, Peter Wold, said that his client plans to make a plea deal in both cases and has been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney.
“He’s going to take responsibility,” Wold said. “He cares a lot about the Shakopee School District and dedicated a lot to it. They deserve to move on without him in the rearview mirror.”
In 2012, Thompson coerced the same unidentified construction company to spend $44,422 to install a concrete patio slab and make other improvements, court records show. He then awarded contracts to the company that “substantially exceeded” the amounts he caused them to spend on his behalf, the complaint says.
Authorities allege that Thompson used several schemes to make hundreds of purchases on the district’s dime over that six-year period.
He resigned as superintendent in July 2017 amid accusations that he had abused his school credit card.
While awaiting trial on the embezzlement charges, Thompson faced additional allegations that he illegally accessed and altered files on the school district’s Google Drive. In July, he was charged with unauthorized computer access, a gross misdemeanor; misdemeanor computer damage, and two counts of misdemeanor computer theft.