Theft by swindle falls under Minnesota Statute 609.2 Subd. 2(4) which states: “by swindling, whether by artifice, trick, device, or any other means, obtains property or services from another person.” It is the deliberate attempt to trick that defines a swindle case. Selling a knock-off purse or watch only becomes a theft by swindle case if the seller is deliberately marketing these items as designer products like Coach or Rolex when they are not.
The case of State v. Flicek (Minn. Court. App. 2003) provides a perfect example of the difference. Mary Flicek served as a part-time clerk/treasurer in the city of Elko for 23 years. From 1990 to 1999 Flicek began to omit her own name from the list of delinquent water bills presented to the city council. Over this time, Flicek's unpaid bill swelled to $9,849.26. Linda Borgen, elected to the city council in 1995, also had her name removed from the delinquent bill list during this time.
Both were charged with theft by swindle after an audit discovered the discrepancies. But the Court ruled the charges were not appropriate in this case because neither had publicly stated or noted that they had paid their bills. They had simply left their names off the list of those who had not paid.
The consequences of a theft by swindle conviction depend on the amount of money allegedly swindled. If the amount is greater than $35,000, the suspect could face 20 years in prison and a fine of up-to $100,000. If the amount surpasses $5,000 but is less than $35,000, the suspect could face 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Individuals accused of theft by swindle cases involving theft of $1,000-$5,000 could face penalties of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If you have been accused of theft by swindle, or are being investigated for theft by swindle, you need experienced legal counsel. Contact Attorney Eric J. Olson for vigorous defense and unrivaled results.