Updated at 4:12 p.m. Wednesday
Former Shakopee schools superintendent Rod Thompson bailed out of Scott County jail Wednesday.
Thompson posted conditional bail, which was set by Judge Caroline Lennon at $5,000 cash. Thompson was straight-faced in handcuffs and jail house greens at his bond hearing in the basement of the Scott County Law Enforcement Center Wednesday morning.
Among the conditions of his release, Thompson must surrender his permit to carry a firearm and his passport; he is also not allowed to leave the state.
Thompson was arrested on Tuesday after turning himself in to Shakopee police. He faces 21 criminal charges — six counts of felony theft by swindle, 13 counts of felony embezzlement of public funds, one count of felony possession of stolen property and one count of misdemeanor possession of stolen property.
Thompson’s attorney, Peter Wold, asked that the condition that he stay in Minnesota be waived because Thompson is living in Moorhead and occasionally uses child care in Fargo, North Dakota. Wold also said Thompson has a potential employment opportunity in Fargo.
Scott County prosecutor Nelson Rhodus quipped that he hopes the job is not in the public school system.
Lennon said the conditions could be altered if Thompson obtains employment in Fargo.
Wold said Thompson has a reasonable defense for every charge.
“Some of these counts I could knock out right now,” Wold said. “We’ll have a proactive defense and will be setting the story straight.”
But the prosecutor begged to differ.
“We have a severe breach of public trust at the highest level in the public school system,” Rhodus said at the bond hearing. “It’s not … a run of the mill theft case or a one-time mistake. It involves … a calculated pattern of deception over a long period of time.”
Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar said Tuesday if Thompson is convicted, his office will seek prison time.
Thompson’s next court appearance is an omnibus hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. on Feb. 7.
According to the statement of probable cause filed in Scott County District Court, Thompson made 305 personal purchases using his district credit card between November 2014 and May 2017 totaling over $30,000. Included in the purchases were sports memorabilia, personal memberships, an XBox, motorcycle jewelry, clothing, alcohol flasks and personal travel expenses.
One count of felony theft by swindle relates to Thompson’s adoption benefit. In July 2014, Thompson entered into a contract with the district to extend his employment. An addendum to that contract allowed Thompson $30,000 for an adoption benefit, with an additional 25 percent approved by the executive committee, court documents say.
Thompson was supposed to submit reimbursement requests for adoption-related expenses and then be repaid by the district. Court documents allege Thompson submitted copies of checks for reimbursement that he claimed to have written from his checking account to the Adoption Network Law Center. However, none of those checks were submitted to Adoption Network Law Center or cashed.
Thompson was writing the checks and submitting them for reimbursement as a way to obtain cash advances from the school district, according to the charging documents.
In total, the board paid Thompson $37,500, and an additional $12,422 on Thompson’s district credit card, for a total of $49,922 in adoption expenses. In 2015, Thompson negotiated to repay the district the $12,422 out of what he claimed to have accrued in vacation and sick leave.
The 13 counts of embezzlement of public funds include a $150 charge for transporting two people from Rico Sun Tours to take them from the airport to a hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico; a $45 garden hose; a $144 elevated garden bed; a $61 Vikings flag; a $23 Vikings flag; a $724 ticket for his wife to fly to Nashville; $40 in bike chain jewelry; a $76 Harley Davidson ring; a $308 charge for a flight upgrade; $472 for a TV; $575 Grand Ole Opry tickets; $219 cowboy boots; and a $67 Vikings wall graphic.