Albert Lea man sentenced to probation for Humane Society theft

Published 3:25 pm Friday, September 28, 2018

An Albert Lea man charged with making unlawful expenditures from the Humane Society of Freeborn County’s gambling account over more than six months was placed on probation for up to two years Friday in Freeborn County District Court.

Ryan Robert Arbuckle Sr., 40, was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor unlawful gambling expenditures in July. The first year of probation is expected to be supervised, and the second will be unsupervised.

Arbuckle was sentenced to a stayed one-year jail sentence, which he could serve if he violates probation. While on probation, he will be expected to pay $6,434 in restitution and return Humane Society checkbook register records, duplicate check copies, receipts and other property he has in his possession by Oct. 12.

Arbuckle will not be allowed to be responsible for or have access to any organization’s financial transactions, and he will not be allowed to place bets.

An audit found he failed to keep receipts or document expenditures from the Humane Society gambling account.

Arbuckle made more than $5,400 of unlawful expenditures from the gambling account from Sept. 1, 2016, to Feb. 27, 2017. He was charged with making more than $1,000 of unauthorized expenditures from March 1, 2017, to April 28, 2017.

Arbuckle said gas expenditures were for trips to pick up animals for the shelter but admitted he did not have documentation showing he picked up the animals.

The charge Arbuckle pleaded guilty to stipulates that he made an unlawful expenditure of between $200 and $2,500.

The case was investigated by a special agent with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division after a referral by the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Arbuckle was gambling manager at the Humane Society during the incident. He no longer works at the shelter.   

Judge Ross Leuning ordered Arbuckle undergo a mental health evaluation, counseling and follow mental health recommendations.

Arbuckle was sentenced to five days of sentence to service, a program that allows offenders deemed non-violent to work on community improvement projects. 

On behalf of the Humane Society before sentencing, board secretary Robyn Joel said Arbuckle’s crime affected shelter employees and animals.

“Many of the people feel betrayed,” she said.

Joel said it is unknown how much Arbuckle’s actions will affect shelter donations. She said though the Humane Society would accept any sentence Leuning issued, it wanted Arbuckle to pay restitution and return gambling records.

Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said his recommendations followed Humane Society requests and asked for Arbuckle to be placed on probation for two years.

Arbuckle’s lawyer, Jeremy Clinefelter, said Arbuckle is “very remorseful about what occurred here.”

Arbuckle agreed with his lawyer, adding he wanted to resolve the matter quickly.

Leuning said Arbuckle will succeed on probation but addressed Arbuckle not directly apologizing to the Humane Society for his crime.

Arbuckle replied that he did take responsibility for his actions and said a lack of direct correspondence about his regret was because he didn’t want to be dragged down by his actions.

“I apologize if that is the way I came across, but that is not the case,” he said.

Leuning said it was important that Arbuckle express remorse to the community, Humane Society and court, adding the details of the crime were worse than a typical theft.

“This is a huge impact,” Leuning said.

Leuning encouraged Arbuckle to “re-discover” his positive attributes that made him want to volunteer at the Humane Society.

Arbuckle was charged with felony unlawful gambling expenditures, but that count was dismissed in July.

After sentencing, Joel said the Humane Society is “happy that it’s over and we have closure.” She said she appreciated the comments Leuning made to Arbuckle.

Arbuckle declined to comment following sentencing.

A mugshot for Arbuckle was not available at press time.


See what happened last night in the PM report here.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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