Minneapolis man pleads guilty to charges of theft by swindle

A Minneapolis man will learn his fate later this summer after entering guilty pleas to two charges of theft by swindle.

Court records show 54-year-old David Abele pleaded guilty to the charges on May 16, causing a jury trial that was scheduled to begin Monday to be canceled.

Abele originally pleaded not guilty to the charges in January of 2020, when he was accused of withholding money from a charitable organization to pay off his personal debt.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, a criminal complaint states Minneapolis police were notified by the founder of Smile Network International on Jan. 9. The victim’s will stated that Smile Network was supposed to receive 50% of the estate, the attorney’s office said.

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While it initially received about $1 million in cash and then got a check from the estate for $250,000 in 2014, Abele then told its board that the estate had been liquidated and the remaining assets were tied up in the victim’s restaurant holdings.

Police reviewed the victim’s financial records and saw Abele was withdrawing money from the estate’s checking account after telling Smile Network that everything had been liquidated.

The attorney’s office said the investigation revealed Abele took $85,500 from the estate.

On June 20, 2016, Abele admitted under oath during a divorce proceeding that he took money with the estate to help him with his personal debts, the attorney’s office and criminal complaints said.

Abele is now scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 8.