NEW ULM - A 59-year-old New Ulm man pleaded guilty to two of 16 original felony theft counts Tuesday Brown County District Court in a case involving the Brown County Agricultural Society (BCAS) and New Ulm Baseball Association (NUBA).
Judge Robert Docherty ordered a pre-sentence investigation for the case of Robert J. Reinhart of New Ulm. Reinhart's sentencing date was set for Dec. 31.
As part of the plea agreement, Reinhart's attorney, Allen Eskens of Mankato, presented an $80,014.20 restitution check in court. The BCAS will get a $74,406.94 payment and NUBA $5,607.26, according to court documents.
Reinhart waived his right to a trial and said he always intended to pay the money back. The restitution amount for the time period of Jan. 1, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2012 was paid, according to court documents.
According to complaint, the case involved $91,727.79 in checks payable to Reinhart or his business on the Brown County Agricultural Society account and $7,907.26 in checks issued by himself payable to his business on the New Ulm Baseball Association account. Reinhart was a volunteer treasurer of both organizations.
According to the complaint, New Ulm Police met with BCAS President Lucy Gluth and Vice President Barb Lux regarding suspicions that Reinhart embezzled BCAS funds. He had served as BCAS treasurer as a volunteer since the late 1990s.
Gluth said she was contacted by several entities involved in BCAS business dealings in early 2012 regarding outstanding accounts payable. In response, she met with Citizens Bank Senior Vice President Bernard Brennan and learned the BCAS account was nearly depleted of funds, the complaint said.
Reviewing copies of bank statements, checks and deposit information, Gluth found BCAS checks issued by Reinhart and made payable to Reinhart or his business in significant monetary amounts, according to the complaint.
Gluth also learned that Reinhart took a $30,000 unauthorized loan in the name of the BCAS without approval from any other BCAS officers. She reported an additional $10,000 missing from insurance proceeds received by the BCAS for 2010 hail damage. Gluth estimated more than $70,000 in BCAS funds unaccounted for, according to court documents.
Gluth told police she and Lux confronted Reinhart about the alleged embezzlement, that he admitted to issuing checks to himself and his business without authorization, admitted to securing the unauthorized loan and promised to pay the funds back, according to the complaint.
At Gluth's request, Reinhart turned over all financial documents in his possession for 2007 through 2010, and the BCAS checkbook and some 2011 financial documents, according to court documents.
On March 14, 2012, New Ulm Police met with James Bastian of the NUBA who said the NUBA board removed Reinhart as treasurer the previous night after discovering records of checks totaling $7,807.26 he issued payable to his business on the NUBA checking account, according to the compliant.
In addition, police observed records of $4,379.75 in checks issued to the BCAS and $6,900 in deposits in the NUBA account from the BCAS account. Police surmised that Reinhart was transferring funds between accounts in an apparent attempt to disguise his unauthorized activity, according to court documents.
Securing a search warrant for Reinhart's business, police went to his office at 1126 S. Broadway and told him why they were there. Reinhart told police he planned to pay back all funds owed to both organizations, admitted to using BCAS and NUBA funds to pay business and personal debts, and denied making any major purchases with the funds, according to the complaint.
In reviewing Reinhart's business account records, police observed the account issued $20,969.96 in checks to the BCAS from January 2009 through February 2012.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).