NEW ULM - New Ulm accountant Robert Reinhart was sentenced to 60 days in Brown County Jail and officially ordered to pay a combined total of $92,190 in restitution and fines Monday in Brown County Court due his guilty plea for theft of funds from the Brown County Agricultural Society and the New Ulm Baseball Association.
Judge Robert Docherty delivered the sentence after Reinhart plead to two of the 16 original felony theft charges and waived his right to trial as part of plea agreement.
For the two counts of felony Theft-Divert Corporate Property, Reinhart will serve 60 days in Brown County Jail and $6,000 in fines for his conviction. He also received a presumptive stay of imposition that leaves the guidelines of 21 months in state jail to the discretion of the judge in the case. If he meets the conditions of his 20 years of supervised probation, his felony convictions and state jail sentences at the end of the probation will instead be turned into misdemeanor convictions. The conditions included requirements he remain law-abiding, restrictions preventing him from entering the Brown County Fairground or contacting the Brown County Agricultural Society and him being prohibited from acting as treasurer for any non-profit organization.
Reinhart was ordered to pay $6,000 in fines with 18 days of sentencing and $86,190 in restitution to the two organizations by July 1, 2014.
Reinhart previously presented a $80,014 restitution check to the court during the hearing on the plea deal. The check had to be held until Monday's official sentencing and will now be disbursed for repayment to the two organizations Since Reinhart's crimes included him taking out a $30,000 unauthorized loan in the name of the Brown County Agricultural Society that could not be paid, Docherty ordered that Reinhart pay any remaining funds and any interest accrued on the loan, which is approximated at $134.
The case revolved around embezzlement of $91,727.79 in checks payable to Reinhart or his business on the Brown County Agricultural Society account, and $7,907.26 in checks issued by himself payable to his business on the New Ulm Baseball Association account. Reinhart was a volunteer treasurer of both organizations, and he had served that role for Brown County Agricultural Society since the late 1990s.
Brown County Fair Board President Lucy Gluth was one of the people speak at the sentencing. She said she was absolutely shocked when she has learned about Reinhart's actions.
"I had high regard for [Reinhart]. But, that changed when he took our funds for his personal finances when times were tight," said Gluth. "I lost the last year of my life sorting through boxes of files in Bob's accounting firm."
Gluth and other speakers at the hearing requested restitution payments and that Reinhart serve time in jail. They argued that without jail time, Reinhart would have only effectively been able to make himself a no interest loans with the two organizations' money.
Gluth concluded her remarks with a demanding question.
"Bob, why did you take our money when you have your own funds to pay the bills?" said Gluth, "You were clearly able to pay the restitution in one lump sum. Why did you do this to us?"
Reinhart gave brief statement at the sentencing, saying he did not know himself why he had decided to steal the money. He said the money was not something he needed and that he had never meant to hurt anybody with his actions.
"I am indeed very sorry for what I did," said Reinhart, "I take responsibility for what I did. I don't know why I did it, but it was a huge mistake."
When Docherty handed the sentence, he also questioned why Reinhart had stolen money.
"I also don't know why you did it. You didn't need the money," said Docherty.
He said jail time would be imposed to deter others. He also addressed questions about the Minnesota Board of Accountancy, stating that the Board was aware of the situation and could take any potential steps about Reinhart's certified public accountant practice now that he was official sentenced.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org