Charges: Project manager stole $350K from employer to build a cabin

The 46-year-old was caught after the CEO monitored his emails.
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The former project manager for a Hennepin County construction company has been charged with embezzling more than $350,000 from the firm.

Cale Lavoie, 46, of Pillager, was charged this week with three counts of theft-by swindle after a period of alleged embezzlement between 2015-17.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office says that Lavoie oversaw the construction budgets and subcontracting bids for Shingobee Builders Company, based in Loretto in the northwest Twin Cities metro.

Using his position as project manager, Lavoie would allegedly inflate bid submissions, approve them, and then either "split the excess funds with the subcontractors or take the difference for himself."

He came under suspicion when he handed in his notice, with the Shingobee CEO starting to monitor his emails. In July 2017, the CEO reported to police he'd found suspicious emails that led him to believe Lavoie had been stealing from the company.

Among these emails were two proposals from the Wilderness Company, Inc. for the same building project, but the one Lavoie approved was $40,000 higher than the other.

Further emails and a spreadsheet found by the CEO suggested Lavoie "was using funds from the company to build his cabin in Baxter, MN."

Medina police found numerous payments where Wilderness Company used the excess funds from the bids to pay for construction on Lavoie's cabin. Police found other checks written directly to Lavoie from Wilderness Company and two more construction firms.

"The investigator contacted Wilderness Company, Inc. and spoke to a man (and now witness) there who confirmed that Lavoie would inflate bids on projects and take the money, which was the difference between the higher bid and the actual cost, to help remodel his cabin," the complaint says.In total, Lavoie allegedly inflated the bids of nine proposals from the three subcontractors between Jan. 2015 and Feb. 2017.

He's not currently in custody, but is due to make his first court appearance on Sept. 18.

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