ELLENDALE, Minn. (WCCO) — The mayor of Ellendale is accused of stealing hundreds of dollars from a veterans memorial fund.

Roger Swearingen, 66, was charged with one count of gross misdemeanor theft and two counts of misdemeanor theft.

The quiet city of 600 is now divided because of the accusations.

According to the criminal complaint, Swearingen had been taking money from the city’s veterans memorial fund since October 2012.

The last withdrawal was in Feb. 2014.

The withdrawals were for different amounts: $100, $50 or $400 at a time.

According to the complaint, Swearingen admitted that the signature on the withdrawals were his.

The Air Force Veteran told authorities he used the money to buy bricks for the memorial and to put gas in his car for the drive to pick up those bricks. He also said he charged for the time he put into working on the memorial.

The mayor was quoted as saying, “My time was worth something.”

Swearingen had no documents of any of the hours worked.

Ellendale residents did not speak on camera. But they did say the town is split.

Some think the accusations against the mayor are blown out of proportion. Others say he took money that did not belong to him.

If convicted, Swearingen could face a year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines.

He is expected in court on August 18.

Reg Chapman