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September 25, 2017

8/17/2017 4:11:00 PM
Sheriff's Department cooperating in billing scam investigation

Chisago County is in line with over 200 other government entities;  awaiting in the county’s case, a few thousand dollars as restitution, as one of the agencies allegedly double-billed or failed to credit squad car components.  Captain Keith Hoppe explained that as fleet manager he’s been asked by a state agency looking into the scam to compile purchase orders and billing/payment records. which will go to build a case against the dealership that held the “state bid” and served as the conduit for law enforcement vehicles from the factory.  

A Fergus Falls, Minnesota dealership employee has been charged with five counts of theft by swindle for not crediting or double charging law enforcement on Interceptor vehicle packages.  

The dealership has had the state bid since the 2013 model year, the charges begin in October 2014 and are broken into several month intervals running to March 2017.  

In total the Crow Wing County Attorney enumerated at least $400,000 in five counts filed against Gerald Glen Worner, 70, of Fergus Falls. The criminal complaint provided to this newspaper from the attorney’s office describes how underlings in the comercial fleet department said they knew of the scam and had refunded a couple of departments that inquired directly about billing, but kept things quiet.  The dealership owner is cooperating fully.
As commercial fleet manager, Worner reportedly created a template for the law enforcement vehicles purchasing process-- and then allegedly could make changes.

Lt Hoppe explained that certain components, a lefthand spotlight for example,  would actually be standard items on a model.  But the template made it appear as optional. The invoice generated would bill the county for the item.  In other cases a purchase order might request a standard item be deleted, but there would be no credit, like vinyl instead of carpet or no engine block heater.

The dealership was designated to provide vehicles for government units all over Minnesota.  The five criminal counts are based on review of 1,220 transactions, according to the criminal complaint.

The Dept. of Public Safety’s Communications Director Bruce Gordon told the Chisago County Press the case remains an active and open investigation and the department is prevented by law from providing details about the case.  

Crow Wing County Attorney staff said in an email Worner is first due in court August 21.

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