Lawyer: Tuttle to plead guilty

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

Former Freeborn County Commissioner Linda Tuttle is expected to enter a guilty plea to her charge of wire fraud on Feb. 10 in federal court in Minneapolis, her lawyer confirmed Thursday.

Kevin O’Connor Green, of Mankato, said he and Nancy Brasel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office are working out the final details of a plea agreement.

Linda Tuttle

He said it is too early to talk about the details of the agreement but noted it would ultimately include dismissing Tuttle’s state charges of racketeering and theft.

Email newsletter signup

He also raised questions about anyone who may have known about her actions.

Tuttle is accused of diverting almost $1 million from her company, Albert Lea Abstract, to pursue a gambling addiction.

She was arrested in June after state and local police executed a search warrant at her business. Tuttle was in the middle of her first term as 5th District Freeborn County commissioner.

“We’re trying to figure out how this could possibly happen,” Green said. “We’ve been working very hard to put together a restitution plan to come up with some way to make everybody whole.”

He said while his client is willing to “step up and take the bullet” for her actions, he has many questions about events that have taken place.

One of those questions includes how Tuttle’s actions could not have been questioned by the banks she was working with and by Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, Iowa, where Tuttle spent $2 million gambling. He said these businesses look at their data daily.

“I find that there’s a larger story here,” Green said. “You can’t just let people run amuck and not ask questions — not one.

“These are very sophisticated people looking at data, looking at numbers that don’t lie. Nobody asked questions.”

He said at the time of the incidents, Tuttle was also taking medication for restless leg syndrome called Requip, which includes the drug ropinirole. One of the rare side effects is compulsive gambling, though he said this is not an excuse for what has happened.

Tuttle is reportedly “horrified and mortified” at what has taken place and has taken steps in a program of recovery, Green noted. She is keeping a low profile in Albert Lea and has sought out private counseling within her now-limited means.

The arraignment and plea hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in Courtroom 14W, U.S. Courthouse, 300 S. Fourth St., Minneapolis.