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Ex-Minnesota Power official jailed; now faces new charge

A former Minnesota Power official who failed to show up for sentencing in Duluth last week on charges of theft of corporate property told the court Thursday that she fled after having a panic attack on the courthouse steps.

Susan Kay Thompson
Susan Kay Thompson

A former Minnesota Power official who failed to show up for sentencing in Duluth last week on charges of theft of corporate property told the court Thursday that she fled after having a panic attack on the courthouse steps.

Susan Kay Thompson, 55, of Hermantown was arraigned Thursday on a new felony charge of failure to appear; her warrant for the previous case also was addressed in court.

St. Louis County prosecutor Nathaniel Stumme said Thompson told a judge that she was on the St. Louis County Courthouse steps Feb. 14, communicating with her defense attorney on the phone before her sentencing, when she panicked and fled. That no-show was a continuation of Thompson's long pattern of missing court hearings before she finally appeared in December to plead guilty to the felony.

She admitted in December that she used a corporate credit card for personal expenses, that it was against corporate policy and that she defrauded the company. Court documents filed by the prosecution allege that the diverted money totals more than $100,000.

Judge John DeSanto ordered Thursday that Thompson be held without bail until a new sentencing hearing on March 8. She also is scheduled to appear March 13 on the new failure to appear charge.

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The court issued a warrant for Thompson's arrest last week after she failed to appear. Thompson "has not provided any explanation or excuse for her non-appearance," the criminal complaint filed in Minnesota District Court in Duluth said.

On Tuesday, Thompson's husband reported to Hermantown police that he had not seen her since the day she failed to appear in court. Hermantown police issued a missing person report saying that Thompson might be capable of self-harm if not located. Police said she might be trying to avoid arrest on the outstanding warrant.

Thompson was found at Grand Casino Hinckley about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and arrested in a hotel room after a brief struggle with Pine County sheriff's deputies while trying to harm herself, Hermantown Deputy Police Chief Shawn Padden said.

Thompson's request for a public defender Thursday was denied. She said she plans to hire a private attorney. Her previous attorney, Kevin Cornwell, asked for permission to withdraw as Thompson's attorney about a half-hour after she failed to appear for her sentencing last week.

Thompson originally was accused of stealing, or not being able to account for, more than $200,000 while using company money for personal expenses and weekend travel, making false claims of company travel and filing for reimbursements by forging her supervisor's signature from 2000 through 2009.

Cornwell filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the fact that it fell outside the five-year statute of limitations. Stumme filed a new complaint narrowing the timeline of the alleged crime to begin Dec. 23, 2005, and end Dec. 23, 2010. Court documents filed by the prosecution allege that the diverted money still totaled more than $100,000.

As part of her plea agreement, Thompson agreed to pay $150,000 in restitution.

Related Topics: CRIMEMINNESOTA POWER
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