James Eli Shiffer, the Star Tribune’s watchdog and data editor, digs into data and documents to uncover the news. Reach him at 612-673-4116, james.shiffer@startribune.com or follow him on Twitter at @jameselishiffer. Tell us what to investigate. Send your story tips to whistleblower@startribune.com.

Former conservator faces federal theft charge

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: July 2, 2014 - 12:54 PM

As a guardian and conservator, Stephen Grisham managed the finances and lives of hundreds of Minnesotans deemed incapacitated by a judge. Now Grisham is the latest of these court-appointed caretakers to face a criminal charge after the authorities say he embezzled from vulnerable adults under his supervision.

The company founded in 2000 by Grisham, Alternate Decision Makers Inc., handled at least 293 cases before he stepped down last summer in the face of the theft allegations. Grisham was charged with "misappropriation by a fiduciary" via "criminal information," which is filed in anticipation of a plea deal, The document indicates the embezzlement happened between January 2012 and December 2013, and that Grisham violated laws of the Department of Veterans Affairs governing his role as a fiduciary for "veterans, beneficiaries, and other individuals who were deemed incompetent or were incapable of handling their financial affairs."  

An attorney for Grisham declined to comment Wednesday. A plea hearing has not been scheduled. If convicted, Grisham faces up to five years in prison.

I spent several years investigating misconduct by guardians and conservators - the Star Tribune's coverage is archived here. Lawmakers have tightened scrutiny of these professionals, and as of last summer, they must register with the court system. You can search the registry here.

Grisham Charge

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