Prosecutors: Inver Grove Heights, Minn., manager stole $1 million from St. Paul wrecker co.
ST. PAUL An Inver Grove Heights, Minn., man embezzled about $1 million from his St. Paul employer, prosecutors charged Wednesday. Mark Brian Grabitske, 57, was charged with eight counts of theft by swindle. He was summoned to appear Dec. 30 in Ra...
An Inver Grove Heights, Minn., man embezzled about $1 million from his St. Paul employer, prosecutors charged Wednesday.
Mark Brian Grabitske, 57, was charged with eight counts of theft by swindle. He was summoned to appear Dec. 30 in Ramsey County District Court.
According to the criminal complaint, Grabitske deposited checks from his employer, Twin City Wrecker Sales, without the business's consent or knowledge.
The checks, totaling $933,776.21, were drawn over five years and deposited into Grabitske's old business account.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Jan. 4, St. Paul police went to Twin City Wrecker Sales on a call of an employee who had embezzled more than $100,000 from the business. The employee was identified as Grabitske, who had worked there for 15 years, most recently as a sales manager.
Rodney Pellow, the owner of the business, said Grabitske formerly had a business called Mark's Chevrolet in Ellsworth, Wis., which he sold in about 1994 to Quinn Motors. Grabitske then worked at Twin City Wrecker Sales.
In October 2009, Pellow sent one of his employees to Quinn Motors to buy a truck for the company and was told that Twin City Wrecker Sales still owed Quinn Motors about $73,000 for two other trucks Grabitske had bought on behalf of Twin City Wrecker Sales.
Pellow told police he signed two checks, given to Grabitske, to be paid to Quinn Motors. Pellow confronted Grabitske about the missing money, which Grabitske admitted he embezzled.
Grabitske was given until the beginning of 2010 to repay the money but never did.
Pellow then had an accountant examine the books. The accountant found that Grabitske had been depositing checks from Twin City Wrecker Sales into his old business account under "Mark's Chev" since 2005. Grabitske hid the fraud by writing in the Twin City Wrecker Sales books that the money was going to Quinn Motors.
A police investigation discovered that Grabitske had deposited a total of 36 checks from Twin City Wrecker Sales into his account.
However, "some of those 36 checks were transacted beyond the statute of limitation for us to charge him," said Paul Gustafson, spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney's office.
Grabitske admitted he took the $73,000 from his employer when interviewed by police at his home, the complaint said. He said he had been hoping the economy would improve so he could pay it back, but it never did. Grabitske said he felt he was owed $30,000 to $50,000 in commissions, so he wrote the checks to pay for the trucks and a commission. Grabitske could not explain why he wrote more than $900,000 in checks over the past five years but said he wrote extra checks as commissions.
Pellow told police that Grabitske was a salaried employee who no longer received commissions once he became sales manager in June 2006.
"I don't know that any money has been recovered at this point," Gustafson said.
Pellow declined to comment. A phone number listed for Grabitske was no longer in service.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.