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Northern MN deputy charged with felony thefts

Cass County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Holmes Karbowski, 77, of Bena, Minn., was arraigned Dec. 2 in Cass County District Court on two felony theft counts and one of presenting false claims to a public officer or body.

He is accused of submitting overlapping hour time sheets to claim pay for work during some of the same hours from Cass County Sheriff's Department and Pike Bay Police Department between April and September 2007.

The complaint alleges Pike Bay paid Karbowski for hours he actually worked for the county and that he worked for neither department.

Aug. 12 this year, Pike Bay Police Department received a report of Karbowski's possible theft, according to the court complaint filed against him. Aug. 18, Pike Bay Police Chief Zeb Hemsworth referred the matter to Clearwater County Sheriff's Office for investigation to prevent a conflict of interest.

Clearwater County officials reviewed time sheets Cass County Chief Deputy Tom Burch and Pike Bay Township Clerk Matt Erickson provided.

Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson then took a taped statement from Karbowski concerning specific dates.

Several specific dates are cited in the complaint. Among them are the following:

"On Aug. 21, 2007, the above named defendant hand wrote that he started work for Pike Bay at "0700" and worked "10" hours. His log sheet for Pike Bay showed that he worked from 7-5 p.m. His Cass County time sheet showed that he started work for the county at 3:30 p.m. that day. The above named defendant admitted that he was paid by both departments during that time. He stated that a person with a warrant wanted to turn himself in, so the above named defendant went home, switched squad cars and transported the person to Walker in the county squad car.

"On Sept. 8, 2007, the above named defendant submitted a timecard wherein he hand wrote that he started work at "0700" and worked for "10" hours for Pike Bay Township. His log sheet showed that he worked from 7-5 p.m. The Cass County time sheet shows that he started work for the county at 4 p.m. that day and that he responded to a call in Bena area at 4:07 p.m.

"The above-named defendant submitted a time sheet to Pike Bay Township for working six hours on May 17, 2007. However, his log sheets do not reflect that he worked that day."

The specific charges allege Karbowski "intentionally and without claim of right, took, transferred or retained possession of money belonging to Pike Bay Township without Pike Bay's consent and with intent to deprive Pike Bay permanently of possession of the money."

The theft charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years, $10,000 or both. The false claims charge carries a maximum sentence of two and a half years, $5,000 or both.

No specific dollar amounts of the alleged wage overpayments are listed in the complaint.

Judge Richard Zimmerman, who presided at the arraignment, has recused himself from the case. Karbowski's next court appearance is an omnibus hearing scheduled to be held in Beltrami County before Judge Shari Schluchter.

Cass County Sheriff Randy Fisher said Thursday Karbowski has been placed on administrative leave from the sheriff's department.

The Bemidji Pioneer and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.