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Food Shelf Employee Arrested, Charged With Embezzlement

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 55-year-old Minneapolis man was arrested Saturday and is accused of embezzling more than $155,000 from a Twin Cities nonprofit that delivers meals to home bound individuals.

Nicholas James Collins was charged Saturday by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office with one felony count of theft by swindle. Collins worked at Open Arms of Minnesota as the director of food services from 2009 to 2012. It’s the company that serves as a caterer for charities including Meals on Wheels and Loaves and Fishes.

Tim Meyer is board president for Open Arms. He says Collins took advantage of the fact that Open Arms is a trusting organization.

“Quite honestly, a lot of non-profits have those thoughts about how it could happen to them, and unfortunately it happened to us.”

He says the irregularities in Collins’ work was discovered shortly after the first of the year. Collins had worked for Open Arms for two years. But Meyer says the alleged thefts have not hindered the operations of Open Arms.

“No one person in our core program or through a meals-on-wheels program went without even one meal,” Meyer said.

He says Open Arms of Minnesota has been looking at it’s operations and shoring things up to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

According to a criminal complaint, Collins entered into several contracts with different charitable groups, provided the groups with meals and fraudulently deposited the payments into his personal accounts. He concealed his scheme by telling the directors of the organization that he was conducting a feasibility study on meal deliveries. He also provided the meal delivery charities with invoices on the nonprofit organization letterheads.

According to the complaint, Collins stole nearly $125,000 from Meals on Wheels accounts in Dakota County, Bloomington and other home delivery locations. He also stole more than $28,000 from Loaves and Fishes.

Collins posted $35,000 bond and is currently out of custody. Collins next court appearance is schedule for Aug. 6 at 1:30 p.m.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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