The former superintendent of Shakopee Public Schools has been sentenced to two years in prison for soliciting a bribe, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald announced Friday.

Rodney K. Thompson, 53, who served as superintendent from 2011 to 2017, has admitted to swindling tens of thousands of dollars in a dramatic case that rocked the south metro district. He used his school-issued credit card to splurge on sports memorabilia, first-class airfare, concert tickets and an Xbox gaming system — information first revealed by residents who pored over school district records after an unexpected multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

A 16-month FBI investigation that followed found Thompson also used his position to obtain personal benefits from ICS Consulting, a construction firm that managed the Shakopee High School expansion project. Authorities say that in 2012 he coerced the company into renovating his basement — a job costing roughly $44,000 — in exchange for school contracts.

In mid-November, Thompson pleaded guilty to the federal charge of solicitation of a bribery. A day later, he pleaded guilty in Scott County District Court to 19 state felonies, including theft by swindle, embezzling public funds and possessing stolen property.

Thompson was sentenced Friday in federal court in St. Paul on one count of corrupt solicitation of a bribe. His 24-month sentence in a federal prison, likely a minimum-security one in Duluth, will be served concurrently with one on other charges he has pleaded guilty to. His formal sentencing on those charges is set for May 3 in Scott County.

"Mr. Thompson abused his position of trust throughout his entire tenure. … And now, his greedy and corrupt dealings have earned him a prison sentence," MacDonald said in a news release.

Thompson resigned from the $176,000-a-year job in July 2017. The case cast a dark cloud over the school district and eroded public trust in members of the school board.

In February, the State Auditor's Office admonished the district for failing to hold Thompson accountable and for failing to foster an environment where employees felt safe reporting misconduct.

Staff Reports