DULUTH – A local accountant stole nearly a quarter of a million dollars from the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce and was “continuing to steal large sums from additional victims” before he was arrested this week, charges allege.
Jesse David Frye, 39, was charged with felony theft by swindle on suspicion of stealing more than $235,000 from the chamber through his business, Eagle Accounting, between 2017 and 2019.
The 150-year-old nonprofit’s annual revenue averages around $1.2 million, according to federal tax records.
During an outside audit in July, it was discovered Frye was withdrawing and depositing unauthorized funds in his accounts, and he “would often disguise the withdrawal by labeling them as ‘Payroll,’ ” according to charges.
“When confronted, defendant first offered implausible and incorrect excuses for the missing funds” before he later acknowledged the thefts and offered a repayment schedule “without ‘outside action,’ ” the charges state.
Though the charges say Frye was running a “criminal enterprise,” there were no details provided about other victims.
Frye was arrested on a warrant on Monday and appeared in court Tuesday. He was being held Tuesday night at the St. Louis County Jail on $50,000 bail. He can pay $5,000 to be released with conditions, including giving up his passport, according to court records.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.