Ex-Shakopee schools superintendent pleads guilty to felony theft, embezzlement

November 17, 2018

Former Shakopee schools Superintendent Rod Thompson, who swindled more than $70,000 in taxpayer money from the districts coffers for personal expenses, pleaded guilty Friday to 19 felonies related to his abuse of a school-issued credit card.

Thompson, 53, pleaded guilty in Scott County District Court to five counts of theft by swindle, 13 counts of embezzling public funds and one count of possessing stolen property. Under his plea agreement, he will spend two years in federal prison to be served concurrently with a federal sentence for corrupt solicitation of a bribe.

Between the state and federal cases, Thompson will pay just under $75,000 in restitution.

Thompsons parents sat in the front row and watched grim-faced as he pleaded guilty to 19 of 21 original felony counts. Judge Christian Wilton relayed personal charges made on every count and asked that Thompson affirm his guilt for each.

I know that I am, Thompson responded.

A bailiff offered his mother tissues when she started sniffling during the 45-minute hearing. After it ended, she wrapped him in a hug.

One felony count of theft by swindle related to his contractual adoption benefit and another misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property were dismissed under the terms of the agreement.

It was important to us that he received some prison time because his actions were such a blatant violation of the publics trust, Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar said after the hearing. He was supposed to take care of our kids and instead he took taxpayer money.

Although Thompson resigned as superintendent in July 2017, his betrayal cast a dark cloud over the school district and eroded public trust in members of the school board.

Hocevar said he hopes this resolution offers the community a sense of closure.

Over a six-year period as head of the suburban district, Thompson racked up hundreds of personal purchases by splurging on sports memorabilia, first-class airfare, concert tickets and an Xbox gaming system.

A 16-month FBI investigation found Thompson also used his position of authority to obtain personal benefits from a construction company for the Shakopee School District, including $44,000 in home improvement projects, as well as personal travel, and attendance at sporting events in exchange for school contracts.

On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to one count of corrupt solicitation of a bribe in federal court.

Thompsons attorney, Peter Wold, said after that hearing in St. Paul that Thompson was ready to take responsibility for his actions.

He knows now and he knew then it was improper what he did, Wold said.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson will sentence Thompson on March 29 in St. Paul. Hell be sentenced for state charges on May 3.

The defendant held a position of public trust with an obligation to act in the best interest of Shakopee schools, staff, and students he was responsible for, FBI Special Agent in Charge Jill Sanborn said in a statement. Sadly, the defendant chose to violate this sacred trust by making the conscious decision to steal and deprive teachers of the very resources necessary to provide a quality education.

Liz Sawyer 612-673-4648

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