Former LE Jaycees president charged with felony theft

Charitable gambling proceeds used to fund gambling habit

The Washington County Sheriff's Office has charged a former Lake Elmo Jaycees president with felony theft after it was discovered that over $31,000 of the volunteer organization's funds had vanished.

Sarah Kathleen Carlson of White Bear Lake made an initial appearance in Washington County District Court Thursday, Sept. 3.

Prosecuting attorney Siv Yurichuk said the court has barred 34-year-old Carlson from communicating with other Jaycee members and will appear back in court for an omnibus (pre-trial) hearing Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.

According to the criminal complaint, Carlson admitted to taking nearly $11,400 in pull-tab proceeds between April 20 and May 1 and gambling it away at a casino.

Carlson also reportedly told a detective between May 2014 and May 2015, she withdrew cash and wrote checks to herself from the Jaycees' general account and "Huff n' Puff" account in the amount of $10,748.93. However, police allege she took a total of $31,408.75 from the Lake Elmo Jaycees without consent.

Officers said they arrived at the Twin Point Tavern in Lake Elmo May 4, after a Jaycees member reported approximately $10,000 in pull-tab proceeds had been taken from the bar and never deposited.

Two witnesses at the tavern confirmed Carlson — a Lake Elmo Jaycees volunteer at the time — was responsible for collecting the pull-tab money and depositing it into the organization's bank account, according to the complaint.

Theft cancels events

When contacted by the Review Friday, Lake Elmo Jaycees president Mike Slobodnik said he was unable to comment on specifics of the case due to ongoing litigation, but had this to say:

"We've been severely impacted by what we can do as a chapter. But, as far as charitable gambling, it has not affected what we are able to do. ... This speed bump is not going to keep us from helping to make the Lake Elmo area a great place to live."

The Lake Elmo Jaycees is a leadership organization for people ages 18-40 in the St. Croix Valley. Its members log hundreds of volunteer hours each year to benefit the community through special projects and events.

The organization has a myriad of local beneficiaries, including children's hospitals, food shelves, sports teams, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Tubman Family Crisis & Support Services along with several others.

Slobodnik said the Jaycees look forward to and will continue its volunteer efforts in Lake Elmo, but admitted some events they host would likely be cancelled this year and next due to the theft.

"That's what really bothers us," he said, ruefully.

The Jaycees president said the club had big plans for the group's largest annual fundraiser — Huff n' Puff Days — next summer to celebrate the event's 40th anniversary.

Huff n' Puff Days are slated for Aug. 11-14, 2016, in Lions Park in Lake Elmo, but Slobodnik said the four-day event may have to be scaled back for lack of funds.

Among other anticipated projects, the Jaycees had plans to get invloved with the construction of a dog park planned for Sunfish Lake Park, by donating amenities like a picnic table and benches. The non-profit will likely have to cancel those and other plans this fall.

The organization is seeking charitable donations to make up for the money it's lost and is always looking for new members between the ages of 18 and 40.

Visit lakeelmojaycees.org for membership information or to make a donation.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

 

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