Woman pleads guilty to theft of over $200K from Albert Lea HRA

Published 2:41 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2022

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An area woman charged with stealing over $200,000 from the Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to theft from a program receiving federal funds. 

As part of a plea agreement between Marcie Marie Thumann and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Thumann admitted to routinely embezzling HRA rent payments for her own personal use and benefit. Court documents stated Thumann pocketed cash payments and altered payee information on payments made by check and money order. 

Thumann, as bookkeeper for the organization, was solely responsible for recording and reconciling tenant rental payments to the HRA. Court documents stated she worked for the organization, which receives both federal and state funding to remedy the shortage of available housing for low-income residents, from January 2010 to July 18, 2018.

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Court documents stated the computer system used to manage tenant accounts required Thumann to manually enter rent payments and allowed her to issue account adjustments. 

“The defendant manipulated the HRA’s computer system to conceal the money she stole, avoid detection and prolong her fraud scheme,” it stated. “Specifically, the defendant knowingly and willfully stole at least $213,217 in tenant payments that she know belonged to the HRA.” 

As part of the agreement, Thumann agreed to waive indictment by a grand jury on the charge and executed a written waiver of her right to be indicted on the offense.

Based on U.S. sentencing guidelines, Thumann faces a prison sentence of 18 to 24 months and supervised release of between one and three years.

The agreement states Thumann is free to recommend whatever sentence she deems appropriate, including reserving the right to make a motion for a variance from the guidelines.

The prosecution and defense agreed that Thumann should be ordered to pay restitution for $213,217 to the Albert Lea HRA, and she must disclose to the U.S. Attorney’s Office the existence of any assets and agreed to assist the United States in locating, returning and transferring assets for use in payment of restitution and fines.                              

As part of the agreement, United States prosecutors agreed it will not bring other charges against Thumann based on facts learned in the investigation.

Thumann was ordered to surrender any foreign travel documents as directed and to stay in the state of Minnesota before sentencing unless she receives approval from the court. She was also required to sign an appearance bond.

The date of sentencing has not yet been set.