A longtime Waconia School Board member and former City of Minnetonka employee is accused of stealing a city vehicle in an apparent attempt to retaliate against a former colleague who got him fired.
John Weinand, 50, of Waconia, was charged Monday with theft of moveable property and receiving stolen property in connection to the June 23, 2020, incident.
According to the criminal complaint, a deputy from the Carver County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of an abandoned vehicle in the ditch on Highway 212 in Benton Township at about 3:40 a.m. on June 23, 2020.
The vehicle had markings indicating it belonged to the City of Minnetonka, and its engine was "warm to the touch," a sign it had recently been used, charges say. The vehicle had a blown-out front passenger's tire and damage to the front passenger side, including the mirror and door.
The Minnetonka Police Department told investigators the vehicle was possibly stolen from the city shop, the complaint says. Squad car and Minnesota Department of Transportation cameras captured the stolen city vehicle being driven near the ice arena, down Interstate 494 and on Highway 212 westbound at Highway 41 in Chaska between 1:12-1:26 a.m.
During the investigation, officials found a silver GMC Sierra parked "up against a City of Minnetonka vehicle" in the parking lot of the city's ice arena, the complaint states. The GMC was registered to a company owned by "RW," the husband of a City of Minnetonka employee, who was only identified as "JKW."
Investigators spoke with RW at his home in Norwood Young America, who said he left his GMC parked in the driveway — the doors were unlocked and the keys inside — at about 9:15 p.m. on June 22, 2020, and when he went outside at 6:45 a.m. the next morning, the vehicle was missing.
Weinand had previously worked for the City of Minnetonka but had been fired after he was discovered stealing city property, charges state. JKW had been partially responsible for him getting fired, RW said.
Weinand worked as a "code compliance manager" with the City of Minnetonka from September 1993 until May 1, 2020, city spokesperson Andrew Wittenborg told Bring Me The News on Tuesday.
Investigators spoke with Weinand on June 30, 2020. He said he was familiar with the city vehicle that was stolen and that it had been assigned to the assessing office, adding he probably would have used the vehicle at some point in the past, charges state.
When asked about where he was the night the city vehicle was stolen, Weinand said he was on a virtual school board meeting until about 10 p.m. and then went to bed, the complaint says. He woke up at about 1:30 a.m. on June 23, 2020, to take his son out to practice his nighttime driving between 2-4 a.m.
Cell phone records show Weinand called his wife at 1:58 a.m. and she called him back at 1:59 a.m. The calls were made from the area where the city vehicle was located in Carver County, charges state.
An anonymous tip made to Crimestoppers said Weinand had admitted to stealing the city vehicle in an attempt to get JKW fired, the complaint says.
Investigators followed up on the tip, speaking to a friend of Weinand who said on June 25, 2020, Weinand called to ask them to say he'd been with them a few days prior at a cabin in Wisconsin, the complaint says.
The friend said Weinand contacted them on June 26, 2020, and said he was in a "bad situation," noting he'd kept a set of keys after resigning from his job with the City of Minnetonka, charges state.
Weinand admitted to the friend that he'd used the keys to take the vehicle to Norwood Young America when he got a flat tire, the complaint says. He said he'd driven a different vehicle to Minnetonka that he'd gotten in Norwood Young America, adding he was trying to make it look as if someone was drinking and driving the city vehicle back to Norwood Young America.
Weinand told the friend he had to call his wife to pick him up and was concerned it would mark his cell phone record, charges state.
Weinand has resigned from the Waconia School Board and references to him have been removed from the school board's website. An archived version of the page says he began his tenure on the school board on Jan. 1, 2003, and was re-elected four times, with his fifth term slated to end on Dec. 31, 2022.
"ISD 110 is aware of the allegations involving John Weinand. Mr. Weinand has resigned from his school board position at ISD 110 effective immediately. We have no further information at this time," Waconia Public Schools Superintendent Pat Devine told Bring Me The News in a statement.
In a statement to Bring Me The News on Tuesday, the City of Minnetonka said:
"We are aware of the investigation and recent arrest of John Weinand, a former employee of the City of Minnetonka. We are grateful no one was injured in the incident outlined in the charging documents and that the city vehicle was recovered. The city awaits as this case works its way through the legal process."
Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested that the anonymous tipster and Weinand's friend were the same person. This is not the case, and the story has been altered to reflect that.