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Former longtime Bemidji State worker charged with fraud for alleged personal purchases on university's card

BEMIDJI, Minn.—A former Bemidji State University employee was charged with a felony Tuesday after he allegedly used his university-issued credit card to make personal purchases.

Former Physical Plant Manager Jeffrey Arne Sande, 66, was charged with financial transaction card fraud, nine months after authorities confiscated multiple big-ticket items—including lawn mowers, a trimmer and other equipment—from his Bemidji home.

According to a criminal complaint, university officials learned that Sande, on staff since 1970, had been using the card for non-university-related purchases after the university received a customer survey about a lawn mower purchased in June 2013 with his BSU Payment Card.

The complaint did not say when the university received the survey, but a search warrant related to the case said that university staff reported the theft in October 2016.

After learning that Sande allegedly purchased the lawn mower, the university conducted an internal investigation and audit and found "dozens of transactions which did not match up with university equipment and inventory."

During an investigatory interview, Sande told university officials he had used the card in question for personal purchases and admitted to buying more than $36,000 worth of items. Sande was then terminated by the university in October 2016, the complaint said.

After the university finished its audit and turned the investigation over to the Bemidji Police Department, officers executed the search warrant at Sande's home. According to the warrant, officers confiscated a lawn tractor, snowblower, king-sized bed and frame and other lawn and home items.

Most items were purchased between June 2013 and October 2016, the complaint said.

Though the complaint said that Sande was "terminated," university staff said in August that Sande is retired from the school and that no separation agreements exist between the two. BSU officials declined to comment Tuesday.

The university hired Sande in June 1970, and he earned a $92,000 annual salary at the time his employment ended.

Sande is next scheduled to appear in court June 1.

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or

(218) 333-9796