Maple Grove councilwoman LeAnn Sargent charged with exploitation - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Maple Grove councilwoman accused of financial exploitation, perjury

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Maple Grove city councilwoman LeAnn Sargent has been charged with perjury and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman will discuss the charges against Sargent at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

According to a search warrant filed in Hennepin County last October, LeAnn Sargent became the center of a family financial mess after her 85-year-old father, Robert Bobleter, died in March 2012. The warrant explains Sargent's siblings became suspicious when $346 was all that was left in their father's bank account.

Investigators learned Sargent had been granted power of attorney for her father in 2008. He lived with Sargent and her husband for the last two years of his life while he received hospice care.

Yet, in that time investigators found bank records showing more than $97,000 worth of cash advances, checks from her father's account totaling over $76,000, and unusual purchases and expenses totaling over $86,000 -- including payments to local spas, realtor-related payments and handbag purchases.

Investigators found that Sargent had several written agreements with her father, including a Personal Care Agreement that stated Bobleter would pay his daughter $1,500 each month for personal care services that included meal preparation, laundry, transportation, housekeeping, errand running, banking, bill payment, bathing, grooming and dressing. He also signed a Room and Board agreement that tacked on an additional $500 per month.

A review of financial records show that though Sargent should have received $24,000 through those agreements, but the charges claim she paid herself "substantially more." Between April 2011 and March 2012, she withdrew about $18,250 in cash from Bobleter's checking and money market accounts and took about $6,000 in cash advances from her father's Visa in addition to paying herself over $26,000 in checks.

The charges claim Sargent also used her father's credit card to about $14,794 in purchases to "Handbags by Miche." She is also accused of using his credit cards or checking accounts to pay her own credit cards and pay over $4,500 in expenses related to her business as a realtor during that time period.

Investigators say Sargent also used her power of attorney to maximize her inheritance as her father neared death, taking out a $58,000 mortgage on a cabin that she was to share with her brother under a 2010 amendment to the 2008 trust agreement which previously left the cabin solely to Bobleter's son.

Just days after that mortgage was funded, Bobleter transferred $38,836.37 to pay an outstanding balance on the mortgage loan for Bobleter's Maple Grove home, which was to be left as a special gift to Sargent.

Sargent and her husband, Scott, voluntarily filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy a year before her father died. They swore by affidavit their combined gross annual income for 2011 was $88,000, but made no mention Sargent was receiving money from her father, or expected anything from inheritance.

Given that none of the estimated $153,000 received from Bobleter between 2009 and 2011 was reported during Sargent's 2011 bankruptcy filing, she has also been charged with two counts of felony perjury.

Sargent first joined the Maple Grove City Council in 1991, and has also served as a liaison to the planning commission.The city administrator told FOX 9 News Sargent's duties will continue as normal since the case has nothing to do with public funds.

However, a council member told FOX 9 News the board is not sure what to do next because they've never been in this situation before. At this point, it's unclear whether they will ask Sargent to step down.

Eden Prairie detectives investigated the case in order to avoid conflict of interest in Maple Grove.

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