A retired Ramsey County sheriff’s investigator sold crime evidence to pawnshops because he was having financial problems during his divorce, charges said.
Thomas K. Rudenick, 56, was charged Monday in Ramsey County District Court with theft and misconduct of a public officer. The case was charged by the Washington County attorney’s office due to Rudenick’s work history.
Rudenick is accused of pawning victims’ jewelry and county equipment between December 2014 and May 2015. Rudenick’s divorce proceedings began in November 2014.
“I knew better than that, I am not stupid,” he told authorities, according to the charges.
The issues came to light when Rudenick, of Hugo, retired in February after serving 25 years with the Sheriff’s Office. An inventory allegedly found inconsistencies with how he handled evidence.
According to the complaint: Rudenick recovered stolen jewelry at a Coon Rapids pawnshop in July 2012. Three pieces of gold jewelry were pawned again in February 2015 in Duluth.
A Ramsey County sheriff’s investigator made that connection by running Rudenick’s name through the Automated Pawn System, which tracks such transactions and is well-known to any officer.
A Washington County investigator picked up the investigation, and found that Rudenick also allegedly pawned a county forensic phone data machine for $450.
Rudenick is accused of recovering stolen items from a Spring Lake Park pawnshop in July 2012, including a gold necklace and bracelet. Surveillance footage showed him selling the items at a Roseville pawnshop on two different days in April 2015, the charges said.
The complaint does not say how much money Rudenick made from the sales, but noted that all of the jewelry was valued at $4,600 to $5,150.
Rudenick’s divorce records show that he received a severance package of about $16,255 from the county, and was expected to receive monthly retirement benefits of about $4,225.
He had been earning about $7,807 a month in 2014.
The filing shows that he had no money in his individual savings or checking accounts, and that he and his wife had about $11,267 in combined debts. Rudenick was charged via arrest warrant.