Former hockey association employees busted


Mike Munzenrider Three former employees of the Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association were charged Jan. 25 for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the organization through its fundraising at the Roseville Bingo Hall.

Former employees of the Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association were charged with felonies Jan. 25 for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the organization’s fundraising efforts.

April Elizabeth Borash, a 63-year-old from Chisago City, Lea Elizabeth Vogelsang, a 34-year-old from Lindstrom who is Borash’s daughter, and Bonnie Jean Harwell, a 68-year-old from New Brighton, were each charged with a single count of felony theft in Ramsey County District Court.

Borash was also charged with a single count of felony theft by swindle for allegedly stealing ATM service fees collected for the association.

The maximum penalty for any of the charges is 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both. 

According to court documents, the three women worked for the hockey association at the Roseville Bingo Hall, where Borash for 28 years was manager on the nights the organization was operating gaming there to raise funds for its programs.

Investigators allege the three took advantage of poor record keeping when it came to cash sales of $20 discount bingo coupons, enabling them to pocket large sums of money from the sales. 

The three women were charged by summons and their first appearances in court are scheduled for March 6.

 

Investigation starts with firing

According to court documents, Borash initially denied wrongdoing, but then allegedly told investigators she stole $5,000 to $10,000 a year to use for personal purposes, telling police she has a gambling problem. 

Both Vogelsang and Harwell allegedly implied to investigators that Borash was calling the shots when it came to stealing coupon money.

Court documents say Borash fired a longtime hockey association employee under alleged false pretenses. The employee believed she was fired because she was concerned about what was happening to the money generated from coupon sales. She alerted the youth organization’s board, and its CEO alerted law enforcement. 

The Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety installed cameras in the bingo hall in August 2018 that allegedly caught the three women in the act of stealing.

Court documents say authorities watched the video every couple of days and allegedly observed “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.”

Borash was interviewed Sept. 18. Vogelsang, a 10-year employee with the hockey association, was interviewed by police the same day and initially denied taking cash, but then allegedly admitted to doing so for her mother. She said she only became suspicious of the scheme three or four months prior to talking to police, though video evidence allegedly shows her taking money on multiple occasions.

 

‘How’s that?’

Harwell refused to be interviewed by police, though law enforcement looked at her bank account and found $84,650 in cash deposits from an unknown source from 2015 into 2018. Her gambling records from Treasure Island Casino, court documents say, show a three-fold increase in the amount of money played there over 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Court documents say there is video evidence allegedly showing Harwell take money on numerous occasions, as well as video showing her and Borash divvying up cash from coupon sales.

When police served a search warrant at Harwell’s home on Sept. 19, court documents allege she said, unprompted, “I didn’t do anything that I wasn’t ASKED to do ... how’s that?”

Authorities also charged Borash with theft by swindle because investigators found deposits in her bank records from the company that maintains the bingo hall’s ATM. The hockey association, the ATM company and a third party split the service fees generated by the ATM, and Borash allegedly convinced the company to make the service fee checks out to her, claiming it was compensation for hockey association expenses.

The owner of the ATM company told police it was an odd arrangement but that in an effort to not upset a customer, they raised no issues with it, while also knowing there’d be a paper trail.

From December 2014 to the time she came under investigation, Borash received checks totaling $14,580.50 from the ATM company.

 

—Mike Munzenrider

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