Prosecutors intend to seek a longer sentence than called for under the state guidelines if they obtain a conviction against a man charged on Friday with embezzling more than a quarter-million dollars from the Dakota County Community Development Authority.
Vangyee Leng Yang, 39, a computer software coordinator with the authority, was charged with five counts of theft by swindle between April 1, 2016, and May 31 of this year.
He's accused of embezzling $271,325 by diverting housing assistance checks to phony accounts he created on behalf of clients who were deceased, no longer eligible for assistance, or were not current CDA clients.
Under state guidelines, a conviction calls for up to 20 years in prison and fines from $6,000 to $100,000.
Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom said Monday that prosecutors will ask for a harsher sentence because the alleged theft involved multiple incidents and because the loss was "far greater than the minimum loss specified in the statute." Also, he said, the offense involved a high degree of sophistication and planning and occurred over a lengthy period of time — two years.
Yang could not be reached for comment, and it's unclear whether he has an attorney. His whereabouts is unknown.
The agency distributes about $1.6 million in housing assistance to approximately 2,600 households each month.
In conducting the embezzlement, the police complaint states, Yang had funds issued to two property-management companies he registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State and had the checks sent to him at his home address in Fridley, a post office box in Eagan and a mailbox at a UPS store in Brooklyn Center.
The checks were deposited in two separate TCF Bank accounts for the property companies, both listing Yang as the account holder.
Yang was hired by the development agency in May 2014 as a housing information specialist, according to the complaint.
In September 2016, he was promoted to the position of software system coordinator and had access to all of the agency's computer systems and software.
In May, the agency uncovered irregularities with the assistance checks going to two property companies, Mackey Prime Property LLC and Twin Cities Star Properties LLC, and turned the matter over to Eagan police.
"The Dakota County Community Development Agency holds the integrity of the administration of our programs in high regard," Executive Director Tony Schertler said in a statement.