Hashim Yonis, the departed Minneapolis park employee charged with felony theft for allegedly pocketing thousands of dollars in soccer field rental fees, has pleaded not guilty after rejecting a plea deal offer.

Yonis is scheduled for a Sept. 22 trial start in Hennepin County District Court.

He is charged with felony theft by swindle of more than $5,000 of public funds.  The county offer would have required him to plead guilty, serve 90 days, and make restitution.  During the proffered five years of probation, he would not have been allowed to hold any position that involved fiduciary responsibility.    

The Hennepin County attorney’s office alleged that Yonis kept some $5,300 in field rental money that he collected from a Latino team of adults for Currie Park, a Cedar-Riverside field built for youth soccer. The allegations emerged after East African community members began complaining to the area’s park commissioner about lack of field time.

The allegations against Yonis emerged after he filed to run for a seat on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. He finished about midway down the list in a 10-candidate field for three at-large Park Board seats.  He was formally charged in January.

The Park Board allowed Yonis to resign from his job as a youth specialist after moving to fire him. Yonis also lost his job at South High School.