Dayton mayor charged with stealing funds from city celebration

Monday, February 04, 2019

Theft by swindle charges were filed against the mayor of Dayton for embezzling more than $5,000 from the Dayton Heritage Day Committee account, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Timothy McNeil, 54, was charged by summons Friday and a first court appearance has not yet been set.

“People in positions of trust, especially elected officials, have an absolute duty to conduct the people’s business in a manner that is above reproach,” Freeman said. “Thanks to a strong investigation by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, we are alleging that Mayor McNeil did not live up to his duty and we will vigorously prosecute this case.”

According to the criminal complaint, the Dayton Heritage Day Committee consists of volunteers who plan the annual Heritage Day festival, with much of the money coming from donations by individuals and businesses.   The money is kept in a bank account in the name of committee member and treasurer Sandra Borders. Mayor McNeil also is a committee member.

Borders had been treasurer since 2004 and McNeil was a long time committee member. In April 2015, McNeil was added as an authorized user on the committee’s bank account. At some point after that, Borders went to check the bank statements electronically and couldn’t do it. She obtained paper statements and discovered that McNeil had taken money from the account, the complaint states.

When she confronted him, McNeil said it was a mix-up with his own bank card. Borders insisted he pay it back and he gave her $500 in September 2017, even though she estimated he had taken about $10,000, according to the complaint.

In 2018, Borders confronted McNeil again in the presence of other committee members. He said he had the money, although he needed to hold onto it in case something happened to his car. In September, he paid $4,000, the complaint states.

An examination of the bank records for the Heritage Days account and McNeil’s personal bank account indicated that beginning in early October 2015, McNeil would regularly withdraw between $1,000 and $2,000 from the Heritage Days account and on the same day deposit that money into his personal account, according to the complaint. Even after the two repayments totaling $4,500, McNeil still owed $8,710.
 “Mayor McNeil used the organizational account like one would use their personal checking accounts,” Freeman said. “We intend to prove such action shows a long course of illegal conduct that is simply unacceptable.”

Criminal Complaint (PDF)