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Former Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon pleads innocent to charges

Former Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon to charges including felony counts of theft by swindle and presenting a false claim, along with a gross misdemeanor count of misconduct by a public officer.

Gordon, 58, of Detroit Lakes, resigned from his position as sheriff in October of 2012. He was charged January in Becker County District Court, after allegations surfaced that he swindled the public out of money by passing off his old boat as an expensive new one purchased for his department.

Gordon’s attorney, Paul Thorwaldsen of Detroit Lakes, requested that his client once again be released on his own recognizance pending his next court appearance, with the lifting of one condition placed on his initial release.

Thorwaldsen requested that Gordon no longer be prohibited from leaving the state. Judge Galen Vaa agreed to the request, but all other conditions remained in place.

Gordon is next required to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing that was set for May 28.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Stearns County Attorney Kevin Voss, in order to prevent a potential conflict of interest caused by the fact that Gordon had served Becker County for 10 years prior to his resignation.

The criminal complaint filed against Gordon followed a yearlong investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, into a boat purchase by the Becker County Sheriff’s Office with grant money the department received from the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The complaint states sheriff’s department employees “became suspicious” about the boat, trailer and motor purchased for the department in 2012, when the equipment appeared to be old and of poor quality, and not worth what the county had paid.

 “Another point of concern was that the serial number on the boat motor appeared to have been scratched or ground off and was not legible,” the complaint stated.

A deputy for the department told investigators he had seen what appeared to be the same boat at Gordon’s property in 2011, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that Gordon sold his boat to Becker County for an inflated price and through the use of false documents that hid his ownership.

Court documents further alleged that a deputy with the sheriff’s department who had his own vehicle repair business said Gordon had told him he had a boat he wanted to sell to the county, and he wanted the sale run through the deputy’s business. The deputy told investigators that he never saw the boat, motor or trailer in question, “nor did he ever have physical ownership of those items.”

The complaint also alleges that Gordon told investigators he had purchased the boat, motor and trailer with his own funds, for more than what the receipts obtained by the BCA show that he actually paid.

The complaint states that Gordon said he had approximately $9,000 invested in the boat, motor and trailer; the BCA investigator obtained estimates from two separate businesses that showed the value of the three pieces of equipment to be between $3,400 and $3,500. The actual amount paid by the county was $7,856, according to court records.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454