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Former county social worker accused of embezzlement, theft

February 18, 2009
By Kurt Nesbitt Journal Staff Writer

NEW ULM - A former county social worker is accused of embezzling money from a local children's mental health advisory council.

Criminal charges were filed Friday in Brown County District Court against Lee Howard Johnson, 38, 1121 N. Spring St., New Ulm.

Johnson is accused of one count of embezzlement of public funds and one count of felony theft.

Johnson did not return two phone messages left at his residence Tuesday by The Journal.

Brown County Family Services Director Tom Henderson said Tuesday that Johnson resigned from the department at the end of October 2008. He was employed with Brown County for 11 years. Henderson refused to comment on the charges.

According to a criminal complaint, police were asked in October 2008 to investigate an allegation of theft from the Brown County Local Advisory Council for Children's Mental Health, a state-mandated council that raises its own money through public donations.

Johnson, a children's mental health social worker, was actively involved with the LAC and once served as its treasurer.

According to the complaint, a total of $533.19 was withdrawn from the LAC's bank account and deposited into Johnson's personal checking account between March 24, 2008 and Sept. 22, 2008.

Investigators also found gaps in the financial statements from January 2008 to October 2008 and gaps in the minutes of the council's meetings from Feb. 14 to Sept. 3, which Johnson was in charge of keeping.

The complaint alleges Johnson has not repaid the funds withdrawn from the LAC account.



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