A Hugo man has admitted to embezzling more than $1.3 million from the truck repair company he worked for and spending the money on luxury purchases.

Leon A. Keener, 55, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis last week to mail fraud in connection with the scheme he ran from 2015 through 2022 while he was a service manager for the I-State Truck Center in Inver Grove Heights.

He used some of the money to buy fancy cars and a boat and to fund gambling trips to Las Vegas.

The plea agreement says that federal guidelines point to a sentence ranging from slightly less than 3½ years to 5¼ years in prison. However, federal judges have full discretion when sentencing defendants and are not bound by the guidelines calculation. In the meantime, Keener remains free on bond ahead of sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Court records show that Keener's criminal history in Minnesota includes a felony theft conviction in 2002 and three earlier theft convictions involving check fraud.

According to court documents:

Keener was hired in 2011 as a service manager at I-State Truck and oversaw its financial operations. He was responsible for providing vehicle owners and insurance companies with estimates on repair costs for damaged vehicles.

He also provided insurance companies with any additional repair estimates discovered during the repair process and after the original estimate had already been provided. If the insurance company denied reimbursement of some or all of of the second claim, I-State absorbed the denial as a loss.

When insurance companies did pay I-State for follow-up repair work, Keener redirected more than $562,000 of that money to his personal bank account and then wrote off the additional work as an insurance denial.

Keener also stole $751,000 from I-State by generating and submitting false vendor payment requests, which he kept for himself. Many of these concocted requests came from a shell company he created and controlled called "CR Services," which he added to I-State's accounts payable system in 2012, before vendor verification was required.

He then transferred the stolen money from a CR Services bank account to his personal account. He used the money for gambling trips to Las Vegas, luxury cars and a boat.