Man pleads guilty to swindling St. Francis couple

A man, accused in Anoka County District Court of swindling a St. Francis couple out of $52,000, has pleaded guilty to one of six felony charges.

In a plea agreement hearing March 28, Robert Lee Thompson, 28, entered a guilty plea to a theft by swindle count and will be sentenced May 19. He remained free on $30,000 bail, but has been ordered by the court to have no contact with the victims.

Thompson had been scheduled to go on trial May 12 on three counts of theft by swindle (over $35,000, over $5,000 and over $1,000), two counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one financial transaction card fraud charge.

According to court records, Thompson pleaded guilty to the charge of felony theft by swindle over $5,000.

He had been arraigned in court on five of the charges Sept. 25, 2013; a second count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult was added by the Anoka County Attorney’s Office in an amended complaint filed Jan. 17.

According to the complaint, the incidents occurred between Jan. 1, 2009, and July 16, 2013.

In late June 2013, St. Francis Police officers, responding to a residence on a report of theft and unauthorized use of a credit card, met with a couple and Thompson, who had power of attorney over them, after the couple had discovered that someone had used their credit card to make purchases without their consent.

The wife told police that Thompson never had permission to use their credit card, nor did he have access to their financial accounts, but he helped them with their business affairs along with taking care of her husband, who had medical issues.

The complaint states that the woman gave Thompson $12,000 to facilitate a silent partnership with the owner of a restaurant in St. Francis and he handled all the paperwork, telling them would receive residuals once the business made a profit.

When police spoke to Thompson, he stated he was a partial owner of the restaurant, not the couple, and the wife had given him $2,000, but police found there was no silent partnership agreement with the restaurant owner involving either the couple or Thompson, according to the complaint.

Thompson admitted he had used the couple’s credit card without their permission and that he did deceive them when he made up the story about the business investment.

He told police that he had only swindled $1,000 from the couple, using it for himself, and he was also responsible for using the credit card without permission for a total amount of $1,000.

When police spoke to the couple’s sons, they described Thompson as a con man, who had told their parents that he was an Iraq War veteran, the recipient of six Purple Hearts, that he was wounded in action and had got cancer from all the chemicals used in the war, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that Thompson was in the U.S. Army for seven weeks from Nov. 12, 2003, to Jan. 7, 2004, and was discharged for failing to meet medical fitness standards.

One of the sons contacted police again Aug. 8, 2013, very concerned about his parents’ well-being, stating that his parents were vulnerable and stating that Thompson had persuaded his mother to pay a $40,000 fine to the FBI for video piracy.

The couple’s bank confirmed that they had just closed on a loan of $40,000 and documents showed that it was to pay a fine for copying movies.

A cashier’s check was written to Thompson for $20,000 and the other check was placed in the couple’s bank account, which the woman withdrew in cash in amounts of $5,000 until the money was gone.

According to the complaint, police contacted the FBI, who confirmed that the couple had never been investigated, nor does it send out letters demanding money.

In a non-custodial interview, Thompson admitted he had power of attorney over the couple because the husband had heart issues and was getting dementia.

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