Former Allina Health VP Charged with Embezzling $269K, Using Co. Card for Vikings Tickets
A former Allina Health executive suspected of embezzling close to $775,000 from the company over a more than ten year period was charged with seven counts of theft by swindle on Thursday.
The accused, David Matthew Johnson, 53, of Inver Grove Heights appears to have been a dedicated local sports fan: He allegedly used his corporate credit card to spend $184,344 on season tickets to the Vikings, the Timberwolves the Lynx, and the Wild, as well as an unspecified team at the University of Minnesota, according to the criminal complaint.
His alleged scheme didn’t stop with sports ticket, however. Allina suspected that Johnson, who was vice president of talent and human resource and based out of their Minneapolis office, had been submitting false mileage and expense reports since 2004. Due to the five year statute of limitations, however, he has only been charged with alleged thefts occurring since 2014, totalling to about $269,000, according the Hennepin County attorney’s office.
The criminal complaint indicates that one of Johnson’s colleagues at Allina became suspicious in May of last year, when noticing that Johnson’s mileage expense reports were disproportionate to other employees. Further investigation revealed that on his milage report, Johnson claimed to have driven to meetings — many of them in St. Cloud — that didn’t match up with the schedule on his email calendar, or with the times recorded on the card he use to swipe in and out of the office.
Later investigations by Allina employees, all detailed in the criminal complaint, would reveal more. In one case, Johnson allegedly used white-out to alter an invoice so the amount appeared greater than what he submitted for reimbursement. In other, he allegedly used a different color pen to alter an invoice from a printing company — the original amount was $285, but he allegedly submitted it as $2,850. Allina employees were eventually able to determine that the printing shop in question, Intercultural Press, had not existed as a company since about 2000, but from 2004 through 2017, Johnson submitted expense reports for $324,000 he claimed to have spent there.
Johnson’s last day at Alina was on May 11 — that’s when he was called to a meeting with the two other employees who had been investigating his expense reports. He denied wrongdoing, but was unable to “demonstrate the validity of the expense reports he had submitted,” or provide any documentation, according to the criminal complaint. Johnson asked to return to his cubicle to gather his belongings, but that request was denied, and he was escorted out of the building.
Soon afterward, Allina employers noticed another employee carrying documents away from Johnson’s cubicle, and when confronted, the co-worker admitted to removing them at Johnson’s direction. The Allinna employees took back the documents and asked that coworker to also leave the building, according to the complaint.
The complaint indicates that “an examination of the seized documents revealed they related to the purchase of tickets for professional sporting events.”
Johnson has yet to tell his side of the story. He will have his first chance to do so at a court appearance on Feb. 14. For six of his charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, while for another he could incur a 10-year sentence and a $20,000 fine.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said that the case had similarities with past embezzlement cases his office has handled.
“We charge numerous employee embezzlement cases every year and it follows a pattern,” Freeman said. “The employee is highly trusted and, over time, the good financial safeguards stop being applied to that employee. But no one can predict which employee will let greed get the better of him or her, so those safeguards must be applied to everyone, all the time.”