Charges say ex-food services director used fake contracts to take more than $150,000 from Open Arms Minnesota.
A onetime food services director for a Minneapolis nonprofit is accused of bilking the Meals on Wheels caterer that employed him out of more than $150,000.
Nicholas James Collins, 55, of Minneapolis, allegedly stole from Open Arms Minnesota, which prepares and delivers meals to the homes of the sick and elderly through Meals on Wheels and similar programs throughout the Twin Cities area.
For nearly a year until late January, Collins set up phantom food contracts with various suburban meal-delivery programs, according to the criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court. While Open Arms cooked the meals and delivered them, Collins collected the payments in the form of checks made out to him personally by the Meals on Wheels programs, the complaint added.
As the largest caterer of Meals on Wheels in the Twin Cities, Open Arms had contracts at the time to cook and deliver 2,000 meals a day across the Twin Cities. Documents showed an additional 200 to 225 meals were going out the door every week. Each meal costs about $4.
The complaint listed 49 fraudulent transactions, with the largest topping $7,200. In all, they totaled $155,189.43, with the checks coming from meal-delivery programs in Minneapolis, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Burnsville and Bloomington.
A routine audit by Open Arms officials detected the scam, Collins was fired and police were notified.
The complaint alleged that Collins illegally received nearly $50,000 from Meals on Wheels of Northwest Dakota County, followed by: Dinner at Your Door of St. Louis Park and Hopkins ($47,403), Loaves and Fishes of Minneapolis ($28,500), and Meals on Wheels of Bloomington ($27,348).
At the time the scam was revealed in February, Open Arms Chairman Tim Meyer said that the thefts went undetected for so long because the number of meals cranked out has been growing steadily in recent years, so an extra 200 didn't set off any alarms.
Collins also illegally collected $560 and $1,610, respectively, from individuals for meals delivered to their elderly relatives, the complaint added.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482