Minneapolis lawyer convicted of swindling employees

Friday, January 02, 2015

A Hennepin County jury took about three hours to convict a lawyer of theft by swindle for stealing money from his Minneapolis law firm’s employees, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

John Bonner III, 69, of St. Louis Park was convicted after a trial that began Monday. The jury returned the verdict about mid-afternoon Friday. His sentencing was set for Feb. 20.

Bonner is a partner in Bonner & Borhart in downtown Minneapolis. According to the criminal complaint filed against him, between Aug. 23, 2011 and Jan. 31, 2012, Bonner swindled two employees out of more than $5,000 by withholding money from their paychecks as expected, but not depositing the money into an Individual Retirement Account as directed by the employees.

“He commingled the money with the general fund to pay himself and to pay his firm’s bills,” assistant Hennepin County Attorney Morgan Kunz said in his closing argument.

“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict and we appreciate their attentiveness in this case,” Freeman said. “There is never an excuse for stealing from hardworking employees, but as a lawyer, I find it even more intolerable that an attorney would act this way.”

The case focused on only two employees and that five-month time period because the three-year statute of limitations had run out on any possible earlier thefts by the time the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office received the case this past summer. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Criminal complaint (PDF)