Cale Lavoie Charged with Three Counts of Theft-by Swindle

Monday, September 09, 2019

A Pillager man has been charged with three counts of theft-by swindle for stealing funds from the construction company where he was employed, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Cale Lavoie, 46, was a project manager for Hennepin County-based Shingobee Builders Company from 2015 – 2017, during which time he embezzled more than $350,000, the complaint states.  He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Sept. 18.

The complaint states that as a project manager, Lavoie oversaw the construction budgets and bids from subcontractors. He would use these connections to inflate bid submissions, approve them, and then either split the excess funds with the subcontractors or take the difference for himself.

When Lavoie gave notice he was leaving, the CEO of Shingobee began monitoring Lavoie’s email. On July 10, 2017, the CEO notified authorities that he had found suspicious emails leading him to believe Lavoie had been stealing from the company, the complaint states.

The emails the CEO uncovered were two proposals from Wilderness Company for the same project, one $40,000 higher than the other, which was the proposal Lavoie approved.

Additional emails and a spreadsheet the CEO found suggested Lavoie was using funds from the company to build his cabin in Baxter, MN, according to the complaint.

Bank records of Lavoie’s and Wilderness Company, Inc. obtained by Medina Police showed numerous payments where Wilderness Company used the excess funds from inflated bids to pay for construction work for Lavoie’s personal cabin. Lavoie’s bank records also showed checks that were written to him from Reierson Construction, Distinctive Cabinets, and Wilderness Company, Inc., according to the complaint.

The investigator contacted Wilderness Company, Inc. and spoke to a man (and now witness) there who confirmed that Lavoie would inflate bids on projects and take the money, which was the difference between the higher bid and the actual cost, to help remodel his cabin.

For a two-year period beginning Jan. 23, 2015 and ending Feb. 14, 2017, Lavoie inflated the bids of nine proposals from the three subcontractors, according to the complaint.

Lavoie is not currently in custody.

Cale Lavoie Criminal Complaint (PDF)