Former electrician who stole copper wire pleads guilty to theft-by-swindle, tax fraud

Monday,

A former electrician employed by the Metropolitan Airports Commission who stole copper wire to sell, and failed to report the illegal profits he made to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, pleaded guilty to multiple charges, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

During a remote hearing on Jan. 8, Kipp Baldwin, 60, of Bloomington, pleaded guilty to two charges from the two separate, but related cases. The first charge, theft-by-swindle, involved Baldwin stealing copper wire from Hunt Electric, a contractor retained by the Metropolitan Airports Commission to complete electrical work at the airport. From March 12, 2015 through November 15, 2019, Baldwin received over $125,000 from the sale of scrap copper. The second case, filing fraudulent tax returns, involved Baldwin’s failure to report the income he received from selling scrap metal during the tax years of 2014-2019.

Baldwin is scheduled to be sentenced March 8.

“Our office takes white-collar crimes just as serious as any other crime we prosecute. The duplicitous nature of these defendant’s actions can cause serious harm to those they work for and with,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “Over the past year, our office has received convictions on multiple white-collar crimes cases against people who thought they were above the law, and clever enough to get away with their illicit antics.

“Take for example Ricardo Batres, who was sentenced in Jan. 2020 to 270 days in an adult correctional facility and five years of probation for labor trafficking. His case was one of the first successful prosecutions of a labor trafficking case in the state of Minnesota. These are serious offenses, and our office will continue to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

As part of his plea agreement, Baldwin will be placed on probation for five years for each count. Those will be served concurrently. For the theft-by-swindle charge, Baldwin faces a maximum of 270 days of electronic home monitoring and must pay restitution to Hunt Electric and the Metropolitan Airports Commission. 

In the tax case for which Baldwin was charged with six counts of filing fraudulent tax returns, and pleaded guilty to a sole count, he ­faces either 20 days of sentence-to-service or community service or must pay a $7,000 fine. He will also be required to pay restitution to the Department of Revenue. A pre-sentencing investigation is being conducted to determine the amount Baldwin must repay. Additionally, the other five fraudulent tax filing charges against Baldwin will be dismissed at the time of sentencing.

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Criminal Complaint (PDF)