Lawsuit accuses children of taking $24M from mother

Published 2:27 pm Saturday, April 9, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS — A lawsuit filed on behalf of a widow with dementia accuses her three children, particularly one son, of defrauding her estate of $24 million.

A court-appointed conservator, who filed the lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court, accuses the children of taking the money as their 79-year-old mother slipped deeper into dementia at a memory-care facility in Rogers.

Although the lawsuit lists Beverly Engels’ three children as defendants, the allegations are focused mainly on Troy Engels of Monticello, who argued in court papers that the allegations are false and the lawsuit is a waste of money. His siblings, Todd Engels of Pequot Lakes and Sheri Brinker of Edina, said in court filings that they support the conservator’s efforts to investigate their brother’s handling of the estate, as well as restoration of any assets wrongfully taken from their mother.

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All three children have filed replies in court denying any wrongdoing in the case.

Last month, Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson that the lawsuit could proceed, rejecting Troy Engels’ argument that it’s a waste of money.

“Though the cost of pursuing the Civil Action is high, when compared to the $24,000,000 that might have been misappropriated, the Civil Action may be reasonable,” Anderson wrote.

Troy Engels also argued that the lawsuit is not in the best interest of his mother because her estate would ultimately be distributed back to the children when she dies. But Anderson rejected that argument as well.

“It is common knowledge that a child cannot legally steal from a parent simply because they will inherit (the) parent’s assets eventually anyway,” she wrote.

The lawsuit accuses Troy Engels of systematically looting assets and cash from his mother’s estate, and then tried to cover his tracks by paying hush money to his siblings, shredding financial documents and claiming a safe containing business records was stolen. The lawsuit also accuses Troy Engels of persuading his mother to resign from the family company, Engels Construction, and sell him the company’s stock for $2 million without paying her.

Troy Engels claims the conservator lacks standing to pursue the accusations against him.