A Minneapolis attorney has been convicted of stealing money from his firm’s employee retirement accounts, the Hennepin County attorney’s office announced.

Two employees of John Bonner III, 69, had money stolen during a five-month period, and prosecutors wanted to investigate further back in time but were thwarted by the statute of limitations.

Jurors took about three hours Friday to convict Bonner, a partner in Bonner & Borhart, of theft by swindle in a trial that began the previous Monday. Bonner, of St. Louis Park, remains free until his Feb. 20 sentencing.

“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict, and we appreciate their attentiveness in this case,” said County Attorney Mike Freeman. “There is never an excuse for stealing from hardworking employees, but as a lawyer, I find it even more intolerable that an attorney would act this way.”

According to the criminal complaint, between March 3, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2012, Bonner swindled two employees out of more than $10,000 by withholding money from their paychecks as expected but not depositing the money into an individual retirement account as directed by the employees.

“He commingled the money with the general fund to pay himself and to pay his firm’s bills,” Assistant County Attorney Morgan Kunz said in his closing argument.

The case focused on barely more than $6,000 and just a five-month period — from August 2011 to January 2012 — because the three-year statute of limitations had run out on any possible earlier thefts by the time the county attorney’s office received the case last summer.

Paul Walsh