Maple Grove City Council member pleads guilty to taking at least $35,000 from ailing father

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 6, 2014 - 11:16 AM
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Jan. 29, 2013: Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman discussed the financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and perjury charges against Maple Grove City Council Woman Leann Bobleter Sargent.

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A longtime Maple Grove City Council member pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking at least $35,000 from her ailing father while she had his power of attorney.

LeAnn Bobleter Sargent, 63, is likely to receive probation under the state’s sentencing guideline, when her agreement is finalized at a hearing scheduled for April 7.

City Administrator Al Madsen said Sargent can remain on the council until her April sentencing. She was re-elected in November 2012 while under criminal investigation involving her father’s case.

Sargent was charged in January 2013 with three felony counts, accused of using her power of attorney to raid the trust fund for her own benefit from 2009 until days before her father, Robert Bobleter, died on March 12, 2012, at age 84. At the time the charges were filed, her attorney Chris Ritts said she wasn’t guilty and would defend herself vigorously in court. He couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sargent pleaded guilty to a single count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Full amount to be revealed

To satisfy the legal requirements of the plea, Sargent needed only to acknowledge she had taken more than $35,000 of her father’s assets. The full amount of money prosecutors think she stole will be part of a request at her sentencing to pay restitution. In previous court documents, she is alleged to have stolen more than $150,000.

Police began investigating Sargent after her half brother, Robert Bobleter Jr., went to authorities when he found only $346 in their father’s trust after his death, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Hennepin County District Court. Charges say Sargent’s father granted her power of attorney in 2008, to remain effective until his death. Two years later, he moved in with Sargent and her husband.

Detailing of expenses

In 2011, Bobleter began receiving in-home health care from nurses and aides, but an investigation found he also signed a contract agreeing to pay his daughter $1,500 a month for personal care services and another agreement paying Sargent rent of $500 per month to live in her home. She should have received a maximum of $24,000 in payment from her father but instead paid herself more than $50,000 in checks, cash withdrawals and cash advances against his credit card, the charges said. She also allegedly charged $14,794 to his credit card for purchases from “Handbags by Miche” for a home sales job.

The criminal complaint also alleges that as Bobleter grew closer to death, Sargent took out a $58,000 mortgage on a paid-for Morrison County cabin her father had willed to her and her brother. He had also willed his Maple Grove home to Sargent, which still had an outstanding mortgage.

Sargent used the loan money to pay the mortgage on the Maple Grove home on March 5, 2012. A week later, her father died.

 

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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