A former St. Paul schools employee pleaded guilty on Friday to stealing more than $81,000 from the school district between 2006 and 2009.
James A. Elwood, 63, of Woodbury, was an assistant accounting tech when he diverted the district's payments to Xcel Energy into his personal Xcel account and then asked the utility company for large refund checks.
He pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft of public funds. The plea agreement said Elwood must serve jail time, perform community service and pay full restitution. He will be sentenced Dec. 17 by District Judge Paulette Flynn.
According to the charges, Xcel Energy started an investigation in August after Elwood asked for a refund of $18,980 from a credit balance of $19,669 on his residential account.
The company found that the credit balance, as well as regular monthly payments to Elwood's account, had been made using money from the school district.
Further investigation found that from Jan. 1, 2006, until August 2009, the school district's accounting office had asked its business office to issue one and sometimes two large checks to cover the energy bills for the district's 50-plus properties.
The criminal complaint said after Elwood diverted the district's money into his account, he asked for a total of 10 refund checks between July 2007 and July 2009.
AND bob von sternberg