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Mayor of Dayton accused of embezzling $13,000 from city festival

The 54 year old is facing a charge of theft by swindle.

The Mayor of Dayton has been charged with stealing more than $13,000 from funds earmarked for the city's Heritage Day Festival.

Timothy McNeil, 54, has been charged with theft by swindle having allegedly taken money from the Dayton Heritage Day Committee bank account.

The committee, which is a registered nonprofit staffed by volunteers, has responsibility for the account that receives donations from businesses and individuals to be used for the annual festival, which has been held in the Twin Cities suburb for more than 40 years. 

In total, McNeil is alleged to have taken $13,210.75 from the account over a period of a year in 2015-16, of which he paid back $4,500.

"People in positions of trust, especially elected officials, have an absolute duty to conduct the people’s business in a manner that is above reproach," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a press release.

"Thanks to a strong investigation by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, we are alleging that Mayor McNeil did not live up to his duty and we will vigorously prosecute this case."

“Mayor McNeil used the organizational account like one would use their personal checking accounts," he added. "We intend to prove such action shows a long course of illegal conduct that is simply unacceptable."

McNeil, who won re-election as mayor this past November, was added as one of the authorized users on the account in April 2015, having been a long-time member of the Heritage Day committee.

The committee's treasurer, Sandra Borders, started noticing in bank statements that McNeil had been taking money from the account, and when she confronted him he initially said it was a mix-up with his bank card.

She insisted that he pay it back and in September 2017 he gave her $500, even though she'd estimated he'd taken $10,000.

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She confronted him again, this time in front of other committee members, in 2018. McNeil said he had the money but needed to hold onto it in case something happened to his car.

He paid back another $4,000 this past September.

A police investigation of his bank records found that McNeil would regularly withdraw between $1,000 and $2,000 from the Heritage Days account and deposit the same amount in his personal account the same day.

He also used the account to pay bills to Charter Communications and Spring Wireless, as well as a one-time payment at a Marathon gas station.

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