Minn. mayor accused of stealing from veterans fund

The Minnesota city of Ellendale - population 600 - has a simmering controversy over a mayor charged with stealing money from a veterans memorial fund.

CBS Minnesota

ELLENDALE, Minn. - The mayor of a Minnesota city of 600 people is accused of stealing hundreds of dollars from a veterans memorial fund.

Roger Swearingen, the top elected official in Ellendale, is charged with three counts of misdemeanor theft. According to the criminal complaint, the 66-year-old mayor had been taking money from the veterans fund from October 2012 until February of this year,CBS Minnesota reported.

The station says that the withdrawals were for varying amounts from $50 to $400 at a time, and that according to the complaint, Swearingen admitted the signature on the withdrawals was his.

Swearingen, an Air Force veteran, reportedly told authorities he used the money to buy bricks for the memorial and to put gas in his car for the drive to pick up those bricks. He also said he charged for the time he put into working on the memorial.

The mayor was quoted as saying, "My time was worth something." He had no documentation of any of the hours worked, according to the station.

Some Ellendale residents think the accusations against him are blown out of proportion. Others say the mayor took money that did not belong to him.

If convicted, Swearingen could get a year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines, CBS Minnesota reported.

He is expected in court on August 18.