Former student admits to stealing from U, other felonies

Joanna Dornfeld

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office charged a former University student and employee Monday with nine felony counts for using more than $16,000 of University funds for personal expenses and using her boss’ name to receive more than $20,000 in student loans, according to the criminal complaint.

Roberta Allicin Rideout, 29, was charged with four felony counts of theft by swindle, one felony count of check forgery of more than $2,500, three felony counts of aggravated forgery and one felony count of unauthorized use of financial transaction card fraud, according to the complaint.

“This is a very unfortunate situation where a former employee has apparently admitted to theft and various other felonies against the ‘U’ of ‘M,'” said Mark Rotenberg, University general counsel.

According to the complaint, Rideout was last registered at the University in spring 2001. She worked for the Office of Risk Management as an assistant to office director Cary Jones from February 2000 to June 2001.

When Rideout took a medical leave of absence on June 26, 2001, Jones discovered she had used University funds to pay for her $658.73 cellular phone bill, according to the complaint.

The University conducted a full audit after Rideout’s medical leave, tracing the illegitimate expenses to her.

“We have a very fine audit department and various tools to check budget records,” Rotenberg said. “Those tools worked in this case.”

According to the complaint:

Upon further investigation, Jones discovered Rideout used University funds to pay for personal Federal Express charges of $338.94.

Rideout used the University Payment Voucher system to pay the bills by submitting them to the University disbursement office. Jones told police the University doesn’t allow the use of payment vouchers for non-business-related personal expenses.

Rideout also used a University purchasing credit card to charge personal expenses, costing the University $2,277.52 and used a University phone to make long-distance phone calls totaling $168.32.

Employees working for the University as purchasing agents have the ability to use credit for business purposes only, said Rotenberg. All Rideout’s purchases were for personal expenses.

In addition, Rideout endorsed and deposited in her TCF Bank account two insurance checks for lost or stolen University computers totaling $3,207, according to the complaint.

Rideout applied for two student loans for $21,999.92 from Wells Fargo Bank using Jones’ name and social security number as a co-signer. For the first loan, Rideout said Jones was her aunt, and for the second, she said Jones was her parent, according to the complaint

Rideout told police she deposited the money in her bank account and did not spend it on education costs, according to the complaint.

Finally, according to the complaint Rideout obtained a Visa credit card, listing Jones’ name and Social Security number for her co-signer. The card has been canceled for non-payment with a balance due of $9,756.74, according to the complaint.

Jones said he could not comment on the charges.

Rideout admitted to University police she committed the crimes. She is not currently in custody, the criminal complaint said.

“I have every confidence that the justice system will take care of this properly,” Rotenberg said.

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected] and Courtney Lewis welcomes comments at [email protected]