Charges: University of Minnesota employee stole computers, sold them for profit

He spent $134,000 of university money on the computers.
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A University of Minnesota employee is accused of buying $134,000-worth of computers with university money, then selling them for his own profit.

Michael McDaniel, 34, of Lilydale, appeared in Hennepin County court this week charged with four counts of theft by swindle between September 2017 and October 2018.

As they uncovered the scheme, police found that McDaniel allegedly owed money to more than a dozen loan companies and on credit cards, and made "substantial cash withdrawals at Twin Cities-area racetracks and casinos."

According to the complaint, McDaniel was working in the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research department and bought computers for his department through university bookstores, but didn't register them with the university's IT department, as is procedure.

A HR staffer noticed this discrepancy and when he was asked about it this past October, McDaniel said he was assaulted on campus and held at gunpoint by three robbers.

The alleged robbers "told him they knew where he lived, where he worked and what he did, where his wife worked and where his son went to school. They told him they would be in touch and if he did what they asked, no one would be killed."

These robbers apparently wanted merchandise, so he started ordering computers to give to them, McDaniel claimed, with 78 computers worth $134,544 purchased.

But further investigation found that McDaniel was keeping the computers and selling them on Craigslist or at pawn shops, with Apple lending a hand by providing the location of the computers.

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One woman told police she'd responded to a Craigslist ad and identified McDaniel as the man he'd bought a computer from for $800.

Meanwhile pawnshop records show he'd pawned 5 of the computers in 2017.

Investigators found that every time McDaniel would order computers, a slightly smaller amount than their purchased value would appear in his bank account a short-time later.

Between Sept. 29, 2017 to Feb. 5, 2018, more than $20,000 was deposited into his bank account, after he'd ordered 13 computers worth $20,831.

At his first court hearing, McDaniel was released on bond with conditions including that he not visit any casinos.

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