Area woman sentenced to 1 year in prison, $213K restitution for housing authority theft

Published 1:21 pm Thursday, August 10, 2023

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The area woman who pleaded guilty to embezzling over $200,000 from the Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority over 6 1/2 years was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge David Doty ordered Marcie Marie Thumann must pay restitution of $213,217 and must voluntarily surrender before noon on Sept. 21 to serve her prison sentence.

Thumann pleaded guilty in October 2022 to one count of theft from a program receiving federal funds and 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.

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U.S. attorneys stated Thumann was hired as bookkeeper for the organization in July 2008 and she was solely responsible for recording and reconciling tenant rental payments to the HRA. The organization receives both federal and state funding to remedy the shortage of available housing for low-income residents.

Though she was charged specifically with the theft of $213,217, court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office said there was a possibility the loss was much greater.

When Thumann resigned from her position in 2018, many of the issues at the organization came to light. An audit revealed unexplainable financial issues, including cash shortfalls, questionable rent reductions, missing receipts and other purchases that had been made.

Thumann’s lawyer had asked for six months of home confinement followed by six months of supervised release.

HRA Board President Reid Olson said upon hearing the sentencing that he was glad the chapter was over in the history of the organization, and he looked forward to moving on past it.

“Hopefully over the last four or five years, we’ve reestablished the trust of the community,” Olson said. “It’s been a long process and a lot of hard work that has gone into the recovery from that situation.”