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University of Minnesota employee who stole computers to fund gambling habit pleads guilty

He ordered $134,000-worth of computers and sold them for profit.

A University of Minnesota employee who spent $134,000 of university money buying computers he would then sell for a profit has pleaded guilty to charges of theft by swindle.

Michael McDaniel, 34, of Lilydale, accepted a plea deal that will see him get a 27-month prison term stayed for 8 years, along with serving a year in a county workhouse.

In exchange, he pleaded guilty to two thefts by swindle from the University of Minnesota, and another theft by swindle incident involving merchandise from a Target store in an earlier case.

He will also have to pay restitution totaling $134,000 and receive treatment for a gambling problem, and his required to abstain from gambling during probation.

Bank records showed that he spent the proceeds of his theft to pay off debts owed to a dozen of loan companies and multiple credit cards, as well as making "substantial" withdrawals at metro area racetracks and casinos.

According to the criminal 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.

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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 investigators a hand by providing the location of the computers.

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