Dec 7, 2022 | By: Mary Balstad

Former Beltrami Co. Employee Facing Felony Fraud, Theft Charges

A former Beltrami County employee is facing allegations of felony theft and fraud.

According to the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office, on December 6 county prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against 64-year-old Ronald Pula of Bemidji. Pula, the former Management of Information Services head, is facing 14 counts of felony thefts, financial transaction card fraud and receiving stolen property.

The Ottertail County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case after a county wide-inventory revealed numerous missing assets purchased by the Information Services department. According to court documents, staff began to notice the suspicious purchases between September 2020 and December 2020.

The complaint states Pula is alleged to have used county funds without authorization. He reportedly purchased hundreds of items, including computers, software, subscriptions, electronic equipment, and power tools for non-county business use. The Minnesota State Auditor’s Office determined the estimated value of the stolen items was at least $146,594. This value includes purchased that appear to have been made for non-business purposes or items that were taken from county premises for non-business use by Pula. The complaint states that the auditor’s office also found out that some purchases made by Pula went back to December 2019.

After law enforcement searched Pula’s residence, they reportedly found over 200 assets totaling $49,724. Some items listed in the complaint include computers, tools and other electronic equipment. Another search at Pula’s farm property turned up 90 more items with an estimated value of $23,308.

More of the charges against Pula carry a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. The charge of receiving stolen property carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

Pula is set to appear in court on January 6, 2023 at 8:30 a.m.

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