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Charges: UMN worker stole $134,000 in computers from school

A former University of Minnesota employee who admitted to stealing iPads from Target is also accused of the using school funds to purchase 78 computers over 14 months and sell them for personal profit, according to authorities.

Posted: Mar 24, 2019 10:47 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A former University of Minnesota employee who admitted to stealing iPads from Target is also accused of the using school funds to purchase 78 computers over 14 months and sell them for personal profit, according to authorities.

Hennepin County District Court documents show Michael James McDaniel, 34, is charged in with four counts of felony theft by swindle involving computers worth $134,544, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

McDaniel is accused of making the acquisitions from September 2017 to October 2018 while employed as an analyst and administrative adviser in the university's Center for Magnetic Resonance Research. He was fired in November.

McDaniel made his initial court appearance earlier this month and was subsequently released without bond. He's scheduled back in court April 8.

McDaniel pawned the computers or sold them via Craigslist, university police said in a charging document. He made over $125,000 in cash bank deposits in that time.

The university's inquiry came in October after a finance employee noticed an inconsistency in computer purchases involving McDaniel. He is accused of buying computers for his department through university bookstores but was not registering them as university property.

McDaniel reportedly expressed to human resources that three unidentified men had attacked him outside his office in September 2017 and forced him to make the purchases.

"I am truly sorry for somehow being in the wrong place at the wrong time and I want to do whatever I can to remedy this if possible," he wrote in a letter.

He gave the same account to police, who found no evidence the story was factual.

With assistance from Apple and Craigslist, police found two people who had purchased one of the university's computers. The buyers identified McDaniel as the seller, and bank records show he deposited the $800 in cash the same day.

Around the same time, McDaniel had been stealing iPads from Target stores.

He was charged with theft by swindle in December 2017 and agreed to join a diversion program a month later after admitting he bought iPads and returned empty boxes to six different stores in October 2017.

When police interrogated him about the computer thefts last September, he said the same unidentified men had forced him to "prove" himself by first stealing iPads.

Hired in November 2007, McDaniel worked for several departments as an accountant and financial analyst. He transferred to his newest role in April 2015.

His annual pay was $126,824, according to records.

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