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Former sheriff charged in swindle over boat

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The former sheriff of Becker County is facing criminal charges, accused of passing off a used boat, motor and trailer as an expensive new one purchased by his department.

The West Central Tribune in Willmar reported that Timothy Michael Gordon, 58, of Detroit Lakes was charged in Becker County District Court with two felonies, including one count of theft by swindle and one count of presentation of a false claim by a public officer He was also charged with one gross misdemeanor count of misconduct by a public officer. His first court appearance is scheduled on Jan. 27.

Forum News Service reported that Gordon resigned unexpectedly two years ago in the middle of his term after serving as sheriff in the rural county for 10 years. He had been with the department for 34 years. KVRR reported that the investigation was conducted by the Stearns County Attorney's Office to avoid a conflict of interest.

The charges follow a yearlong investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension into a boat purchased by the Becker County Sheriff’s Office. Money for the purchase came from a grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. After the grant was awarded, Becker County commissioners voted to authorize $7,856 to buy a boat, motor and trailer. The criminal complaint states the BCA investigator found a purchase order that indicated the Sheriff’s Office bought the boat, trailer and motor from Mountain Motors in Detroit Lakes, showing Gordon spent $3,730 for the boat, trailer and motor, or less than half what the county eventually paid.

Charging documents indicate employees in the sheriff's department alerted investigators that the boat was old and in poor condition. They also told the BCA that the serial number on the motor appeared to have been scratched off. Kelly Shannon, chief deputy at the time and now the Becker County sheriff, told a BCA investigator that he had seen the boat at Gordon’s home. Deputy Cody Bouchie said no bids were submitted for the property as they typically had in the past when the office made a purchase.

Forum News reported their check of DNR records revealed the same boat was registered to Gordon on Feb. 22, 2010, and transferred to the Sheriff’s Office on July 25, 2012.

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