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Former Dean of Nursing at St. Catherine University embezzled $400,000 for boyfriend, charges say

Former St. Kate's administrator accused of stealing $400K from school
Former St. Kate's administrator accused of stealing $400K from school 00:23

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A former administrator at a Twin Cities college is accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school to the benefit of her boyfriend.

Former Dean of Nursing at St. Catherine University Laura Fero is facing 11 counts of theft by swindle, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County last Friday. Her romantic partner, Juan Bruce, is also facing similar charges.

The university alerted the St. Paul Police Department when it discovered it lost approximately $400,000 after Fero left her position at the end of August 2023.

An investigation conducted by St. Kate's centered on contracts she entered into with Bruce's company, JB & Associates. The investigation concluded that the company was a front to obtain misappropriated funds from the college, according to court documents.

In total, Bruce's company allegedly received $412,644 from contracts with St. Kate's from August 2020 to August 2023.

After Fero left the university, it contacted Burce to ask for the reports for the work he completed under his contracts. What he sent "differed significantly" from the reports previously sent to Fero, charges say. Investigators also determined that Fero had edited the document after she left the university.

The investigation alleges Fero violated St. Kate's conflict of interest policy and used her position to "transfer money to Bruce while she was in a romantic relationship with him." She continued to give Bruce money while he provided little to no services to the university, the complaint says.

Fero and Bruce took multiple trips together from 2021 through 2023, allegedly with the money embezzled from St. Kate's. Additionally, Fero spent more than $26,000 on her university-provided procurement card that was "not legitimate" or of "questionable legitimacy," the university reports. 

The St. Paul Police Department says that Fero used the card to pay for airfare, rental cars, hotels and airport parking from her travel with Bruce.

St. Paul police arrested Fero, who now lives in Florida, last week at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. During an interview, she told police she met Bruce from a "cold call" to St. Kate's and she had no relationship with him prior to the contract. She later changed her story, saying she had met him on a dating website and did not disclose her relationship to the university because she thought "the conflict of interest policy only referred to 'married' people," police said. 

She also admitted that she edited documents that Bruce submitted to St. Catherine's.

Both Bruce and Fero are in custody. Bruce's bail is set at $100,000, while Fero's is $75,000.

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