Former 3M Engineer Accused of Bilking Co. of $5M

David Beulke of Brookings, South Dakota, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and agreed to make restitution for allegedly defrauding 3M through phony businesses that he created.

A former engineer at 3M Company allegedly defrauded the Maplewood-based company of more than $5 million by creating phony businesses through which it was billed for specialized parts that were never delivered.

In a document filed Monday, the same day that he was charged, David Beulke pleaded guilty to mail fraud and agreed to make restitution. The case was brought in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Beulke was charged by “information” and without a grand jury indictment; oftentimes, those charged in that way strike a deal with the government in the hopes of receiving some leniency.

Federal prosecutors said that Beulke, of Brookings, South Dakota, worked at a 3M plant in Brookings that manufactures medical and surgical products.

In a court filing, prosecutors accused Beulke of creating phony businesses and presenting them to 3M as legitimate vendors of specialized parts.

“The defendant caused 3M to place orders for supposed parts from his created businesses, knowing those orders were fraudulent,” prosecutors wrote in the filing. “He kept the money 3M sent for the supposed parts for his own personal use.”

Specifically, the government says that Beulke deposited the money into various accounts, then spent some and transferred other portions into investment and retirement accounts. The fraud allegedly took place between February 1993 and September 2008.

Beulke's plea agreement includes forfeiture of almost $2.5 million that the government has already seized from various accounts belonging to him. It also includes an additional $1.4 million-excluding taxes, penalties, and interest-from the sale of various real estate, property, and fixtures in Brookings, South Dakota.

Beulke faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.