Minnesota: Gambler Faces Restitution-or-Jail Deadline, $300k Casino Thief Gets Prison

  • Shawn Luedtke pleaded guilty to stealing almost $40k in gambling funds from a fire department
  • At her guilty plea in April, Luedtke agreed to return the full amount or risk 180 days in jail
  • On October 10, Judge Askegaard ordered Luedtke to pay $44,458 in restitution
  • On October 19, Luedtke’s public defender requested a restitution date of December 17
  • Jennifer Boutto got sentenced to eight months in prison for embezzling over $300k from a casino
  • Boutto “remains free under probationary conditions pending a voluntary surrender date”
Judge's gave next to the Minnesota state seal
In Minnesota, one woman is going to prison for stealing $300k from a casino, while another is facing jail time unless she returns money she stole. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Two Minnesota women

Two Minnesota women hit the casino-related crime headlines this week, one for trying to buy time to avoid prison, and the other for being about to proceed directly there.

Shawn Marie Luedtke, 54 — who pleaded guilty to the theft of almost $40,000 in gambling funds from the coffers of the Garrison Fire Department in Crow Wing County — has asked for time to return the money to avoid potential prison time.

Minnesota daily Brainerd Dispatch took to Twitter October 22 to share the story it had broken the day prior:

Luedtke, a city of Garrison resident, pleaded guilty in April to two felony theft charges. As part of the plea deal, she agreed to reimburse the full amount or risk 180 days in jail.

According to the Dispatch, Luedtke claimed $15,000 would cover the fire department’s losses and filed an affidavit contesting the $44,458 in restitution ordered by Crow Wing County District Judge Erik J. Askegaard.

On October 10, Judge Askegaard, however, ordered Luedtke to pay back $37,283 in stolen funds and $7,175 paid to a gambling manager. Not wanting to wait around, the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office requested Judge Askegaard start the clock ticking by naming the date Luedtke should report to prison, should she fail to pony up the restitution.

In an October 19 filing, the daily reported, Luedtke’s public defender Emmett Wells requested a restitution date of December 17, noting his client believed she could make the full payment by then.

According to case information from the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office, Luedtke used the stolen money to gamble at Grand Casino. The records did not state what Minnesota Grand Casino she gambled at, either Grand Casino Hinckley, Grand Casino Mille Lacs, or Grand Casino RV Park.

Prison for Boutto

In another case, Judge Eric Tostrud sentenced Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 33, to serve eight months in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release for embezzling over $300,000 from Fortune Bay Resort Casino in Tower, Minnesota.

Boutto, a former front desk clerk at the tribal casino, pleaded guilty in March 2021 to a felony count of embezzlement and theft.

Judge Tostrud sentenced Boutto on October 18 in the US District Court in St. Paul. Boutto must also return the stolen amount of $315,740 to the casino’s owners, the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.

Authorities said she stole $315,739.87 by processing almost 3,000 fictitious cash refunds between 2013 and 2019.

Boutto’s debts not tribe’s responsibility

Boutto reportedly stated she began embezzling the money “out of desperation to pay medical bills and make ends meet.” Assistant US Attorney Jordan Sing disputed her claim, with financial records reportedly revealing Boutto enjoying a “lifestyle she could not otherwise afford.”

exploited a marginalized population and added to sentiments of community mistrust”

Sing said the government did not argue that Boutto endured family financial difficulties. But, Sing stated, Boutto’s debts were not the tribe’s responsibility and that her “embezzlement exploited a marginalized population and added to sentiments of community mistrust.”

According to the Duluth News Tribune Boutto, who does not have any reported criminal history, “remains free under probationary conditions pending a voluntary surrender date”.

While Boutto will imminently be behind bars, Luedtke will most likely be doing everything she can not to join her.

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