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It's not like this is uncommon, it happens more frequently than most are aware.
One of three longtime employees of the Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association accused of pocketing thousands of dollars in cash from the Roseville Bingo Hall has admitted to the criminal conduct, according to her attorney.
Bonnie Jean Harwell, 69, pleaded guilty last week in Ramsey County District Court to one count of aiding and abetting felony-level theft.
Harwell’s attorney, Daniel Guerrero, said his client felt compelled to steal from the bingo hall because her boss and co-defendant in the case, April Borash, instructed her to do so to help support her gambling habit.
The Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association shares the operation of the bingo hall with the Midway Speed Skating Club.
“(My client) did not really benefit financially from taking the money, although she did take it,” Guerrero said. “Most of it went to April … She knows that what she did was wrong and she feels horrible about it and she wanted to take responsibility and put this behind her.”
In exchange for her plea, prosecutors agreed to grant Harwell a stay of adjudication when she’s sentenced in June, Guerrero said. That means her felony conviction will drop to a misdemeanor on her criminal record assuming she abides by all the terms of her probation.
Prosecutors also agreed to cap any jail time she receives to less than five days.
Harwell, Borash and Borash’s daughter, Lea Vogelsang, were implicated in the theft-scheme last January after one of their former colleagues expressed concerns about missing money to one of the hockey association’s board members, according to the criminal complaints filed in the case.
They are accused of failing to record sales of coupon books sold at the bingo hall and pocketing the revenue instead, exploiting what is described in charging documents as a lax record-keeping system.
The coupons could be purchased to reduce the cost to play pull tabs at the bingo hall.
While all three are charged with felony-level theft, Borash also faces a charge of theft by swindle.
When interviewed by law enforcement, Borash initially said she took only enough money to reimburse herself for money she fronted to the organization, but she later admitted to stealing between $5,000 and $10,000 to help support her gambling problem, court records say.
Vogelsang also initially denied misconduct but later admitted to becoming involved in the scheme after she said she confronted her mother about missing coupon revenue, the complaint said. Borash’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment. She has yet to enter a plea in her case. Her next court date is later this month.
Vogelsang intends to plead not guilty, according to her attorney, Thomas Kelly. Her next court date is in May.UPDATE 6/13/2019
Bonnie Harwell stood before a judge on Tuesday and told him it was out of her character to steal.
Things just got out of hand, she explained.
Harwell pleaded guilty in April to aiding and abetting theft by swindle for pocketing cash when she was working at the Roseville Bingo Hall as a longtime employee of the Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association.
Bonnie Hartwell (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)
Ramsey County District Judge Adam Yang sentenced her Tuesday to probation.
Two of Harwell’s colleagues, April Borash and Borash’s daughter, Lea Vogelsang, were also allegedly involved in the scheme.
“I just feel terrible … and I’m sorry that this happened,” said Harwell, who wiped away tears as she spoke with her husband seated behind her. “Me and my husband are good people. We are givers, not takers … things just got screwed up.”