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Duluth businessman found guilty of stealing $782,000 in state money

Forum News Service

DULUTH -- A former Duluth businessman accused of stealing nearly $800,000 from the Minnesota Department of Revenue was found guilty of felony theft Thursday in state district court in Duluth.

Kevin Charles Owens, 54, was charged in 2010, after allegedly cashing two checks from the department that were erroneously sent to him in 2008. A jury deliberated about two hours before returning the verdict.

Owens will be sentenced Sept. 15, but he’s unlikely to serve additional time. The “presumptive’’ sentence for the crime is 363 days, but that time is usually stayed.

Since Owens already has served 80 days in jail after being arrested, and because he has no major criminal record, lawyers in the case said he’s unlikely to serve more.

The judge allowed Owens to remain free pending sentencing under supervised release.

According to the criminal complaint, the Department of Revenue issued two checks made payable to Owens Yacht Sales in the amounts of $560,980.12 and $221,982.06. The department said the checks were issued erroneously “due to human error” and “somewhat complicated internal accounting errors.”

According to bank records, Owens cashed the checks one week after they were issued and spent the entire $782,962.18 within several months.