Former Willow River city clerk sentenced for embezzlementMary Angela Leonard, 56, of Willow River, admitted to stealing more than $167,000 between 2009 and 2012.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
A former Willow River city clerk who pleaded guilty to embezzling from the city to support a gambling problem was sentenced to pay restitution Friday.
At a sentencing hearing in Pine County, Mary Angela Leonard, 56, of Willow River, was ordered to pay $67,560.65 of the $167,560.65 that she admitted to taking between May 2009 and August 2012.
Judge James T. Reuter also sentenced her to 21 months in prison, but stayed the time for 20 years of supervised probation.
To meet the terms of probation, Leonard must pay restitution, remain law-abiding and comply with gambling treatment and attend regular meetings. She also is not allowed to gamble or enter any gambling establishment.
Leonard, who had been the city clerk for about 11 years, pleaded guilty on June 21 to theft by swindle.
According to court documents, the swindle was discovered after Northview Bank informed the city Aug. 13 that Leonard was cashing multiple city checks written to her. City Councilor Tom Jensen reviewed bank records for 2007 through 2012. He found checks written out to Leonard starting in 2009.
Jensen spoke with Leonard on Aug. 14 and told her that she was suspended.
Leonard “told him that she has a gambling problem and admitted to stealing money,” the criminal complaint said. “The defendant stated she was glad it was over and stated she felt she was stealing from everyone in Willow River.”
Pine County Sheriff Sgt. Jeff Nelson later met with Leonard and her attorney. In a voluntary statement, Leonard said she would write a check to herself and sign the mayor’s name on it. She would then record the check stem under a legitimate account.
Leonard told investigators that she spent all the money she took at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Black Bear Casino in Carlton or to pay bills, with the bulk going to Grand Casino.