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New Brighton woman sentenced in Roseville Bingo Hall embezzlement scheme

New Brighton woman sentenced in Roseville Bingo Hall embezzlement scheme Photo: KSTP

June 11, 2019 03:57 PM

One of three women charged in connection to what authorities say was a theft and embezzlement scheme at a bingo hall operated part-time by the Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association (RAYHA) was sentenced for one count of theft on Tuesday.

According to court documents, Bonnie Jean Harwell, 67, from New Brighton, will need to complete three years of supervised probation and 60 hours of indeterminate work service. The work service is required to be finished within six months. Harwell previously entered a guilty plea toward one count of theft.

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Thirty-five-year-old Lea Elizabeth Vogelsang of Lindstrom was sentenced to complete one year in a diversion program and one year of supervised probation on Monday. Her mother, April Borash, entered a guilty plea to one count of felony theft by swindle last month. She also agreed to receive treatment for a gambling addiction and to stay out of casinos.

RELATED: Roseville youth hockey employee pleads guilty, will recieve treatment for gambling addiction

The hockey association shares operation of the Roseville Bingo Hall with the Midway Speedskating Club.

One of their former colleagues had expressed concerns about missing money to one of the hockey association's board members in 2018, according to the criminal complaints.

According to a criminal complaint, three $20 coupons for future use at the bingo hall were sold in packs for $40, allowing purchasers to reduce the cost of play. However, the complaint goes on to state, the RAYHA did not always track the number of coupons sold, even while the cash was collected and was periodically brought to the admissions area and separately recorded. 

The complaint alleges that flaw was exploited by Borash, who for many years managed the bingo hall on nights when the RAYHA operated it, and fellow employees Vogelsang and Harwell. Typically, only those three were involved in selling the $20 coupons, the complaint alleges.

The complaint claims a longtime RAYHA employee who worked at the bingo hall was fired by Borash in July 2018. Borash said the decision had been made by the RAYHA board, but the employee reportedly discovered that was false after speaking with the group's CEO.

The employee believed the real reason for the termination was concerns she had raised about the sale of the $20 coupons. The CEO then contacted the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. And both the RAYHA and the Midway Speedskating Club, which also operated the hall on a part-time basis, gave investigators the authority to install cameras.

"That video shows numerous occasions where Borash, Vogelsang and Harwell were seen selling coupons, taking in cash, and putting that cash in a bank bag in a drawer or somewhere else in the drawer, and then later putting the cash in their pockets," the complaint alleges.

RELATED: Woman charged in connection to theft at Roseville Bingo Hall must complete diversion program

The complaint states Borash initially denied taking money, but eventually acknowledged taking $5,000 to $10,000 per year in coupon money. She allegedly also admitted to having a gambling problem.

Vogelsang is also alleged to have confessed to taking money, though she reportedly said it was for her mother. And that when she confronted her mother about coupon sales not being reported, her mother stated she used the money to buy office supplies and other items like shirts for employees.

"When asked why she did not raise more questions about the missing money, Vogelsang stated that she didn't look into the issue, because she didn't want to know," the complaint reads.

The complaint goes on to allege that between 2015 and part of 2018, there were $84,650 in cash deposits from unknown sources into Harwell's bank account. From Jan. 1, 2017 to June 11, 2018, there were allegedly a total of $50,300 in cash deposits from unknown sources.

Harwell will also be required to owe a total of $5,137 in court fees.

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