MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Girl Scout troop leader has pleaded guilty to swindling her troop and chapter of more than $8,000 that was generated, in part, by the sale of Girl Scout cookies.
Fifty-five-year-old Joleen Marie Hopkins pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by swindle on Tuesday. She served as a leader to a Girl Scout troop in Mendota Heights, Minn. in 2005 and was accused of the thefts in 2008 and 2009. Hopkins has two prior felony convictions and another for a gross misdemeanor.
According to a Girl Scout official, Hopkins’ husband served as “cookie manager” for the troop. The charges state that Hopkins spent approximately $8,200 from Girl Scout funds. About $4,000 of that was generated by Girl Scout cookie fundraising drives over the last few years.
Paperwork shows funding from the troop was used to pay personal bills, buy sports equipment for Hopkins’ daughters and make purchases at auto parts stores, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses.
A local spokesperson for the Girl Scouts said they never did a follow-up background check of Hopkins after 2005.
Barbara Boelk, a spokesperson for the Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valley Girl Scout Chapter, said they now require criminal background checks.
Hopkins will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 in Hastings. Full restitution will be sought for all financial losses in this case.