Student employee charged with U computer theft

Sarah Brownson

After a five-month University Police investigation, a University student employee was charged Thursday in Hennepin County District Court for allegedly stealing $6,239 of University computer equipment from the school last April.
During his employment with University Computer Services, 21-year-old Victor Bruno picked up computers that the school’s General Counsel removed from its inventory between April 27 and 29, said Mark Zierdt, manager of computer repair services.
Bruno was supposed to return the computers to his employer, but a few days later some of the equipment was missing, Zierdt said.
The theft wasn’t detected right away because the database had been changed. The original pick up had been canceled, but then an unauthorized employee also tried to cancel the order.
“Someone tampered with the records,” said University Police Det. Marianne Scheel.
According to court documents, a total of nine computers and one monitor, valued at $6,239, was missing.
Scheel says she didn’t start the investigation for a month after the initial report, due to a lack of investigators in the police department.
The late start turned out to be a benefit, Scheel said: “He felt comfortable enough to advertise it on eBay.”
In late July, University Computer Services suspended Bruno without pay. Zierdt made the decision after police targeted Bruno as the principle suspect.
“He had a very high technical knowledge of computer equipment and software, so we utilized him a great deal in our shop,” Zierdt said. “He left a big hole when we had to suspend him.”
Bruno eventually came forward and admitted taking the computers, even selling one over the Internet. He then returned the remaining equipment to the police.
Zierdt said he didn’t know what exactly was returned to the police. “I have not seen it or received any kind of accounting of what was returned.”
Scheel said another student was also involved. However the suspect escaped prosecution for the crime after he never returned police phone calls.
“Fortunately for him he wasn’t charged criminally, but I believe that he committed a crime just as Victor Bruno did,” Scheel said.
If convicted, Bruno could face up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The crime is considered a felony in the state of Minnesota.

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