A man accused of defrauding his Apple Valley employer out of more than $110,000 has been charged in district court with three felony counts of theft by swindle.
Michael B. Swartz, 45, of Shakopee, was working for a local insurance company when he allegedly forged his manager’s signature on multiple checks to purchase two new vehicles and an RV trailer, rent a vehicle, and add money to his personal credit card account.
According to a criminal complaint filed this month, an agent with the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau began investigating a report of theft and insurance fraud at the company in July 2016, after an audit revealed several checks for insurance claims had been issued that had no claim file or report associated with them.
The insurance company contacted the businesses where the checks had been issued, and learned one check in the amount of nearly $42,000 was used at a car dealership to purchase a new vehicle by Swartz in July 2014. That same month, a check for $905 was used to rent a vehicle, and Swartz’s name was on the rental.
Checks from November 2014 totaling over $47,000 were issued to a car dealership for a second new vehicle. Three additional checks from fall 2014, totaling about $3,500, were also discovered; the checks were made payable to Swartz’s personal credit card account. In February 2015, Swartz purchased an RV trailer with a check in the amount of $19,660.
The company’s process for issuing a check requires two signatures, one from the insurance adjuster and one from the general manager. When agents spoke with Swartz at his home, he admitted writing the checks and forging the general manager’s name, according to the complaint.
Swartz told investigators he was angry with his employer and was “hoping to cause them financial hardship,” the complaint said.
If convicted of all three felony counts, Swartz faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison and fines totaling $220,000. His first court appearance is scheduled for May 22 in Hastings.