MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The mayor of Dayton, Minnesota has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a fund for city celebration events.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says Timothy McNeil had taken well in excess of $5,000 from the Dayton Heritage Day Committee account.

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Heritage Day, an annual event, has been going on for about 40 years, and is funded largely by private businesses and individuals.

When the committee’s treasurer noticed that funds had been withdrawn by McNeil, he said that he had “mixed up” the debit cards. But, according to bank records, McNeil had taken more than $10,000 from the account in withdrawals, and deposited it into his own account. He’d also used the fund’s card to make at least three purchases also totaling more than $1,000.

“People in positions of trust, especially elected officials, have an absolute duty to conduct the people’s business in a manner that is above reproach,” Freeman said. “Thanks to a strong investigation by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, we are alleging that Mayor McNeil did not live up to his duty and we will vigorously prosecute this case.”

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The embezzlement happened over the course of a half-year, ending in 2016. McNeil promised to pay the money back, according to the complaint, but as of the time of the complaint, he had only paid back $4,500.

“Mayor McNeil used the organizational account like one would use their personal checking accounts,” Freeman said. “We intend to prove such action shows a long course of illegal conduct that is simply unacceptable.”

McNeil’s first court appearance had not yet been set.

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The city of Dayton released a statement Monday: “The complaint that the City was provided today correctly indicates that the Heritage Day Committee is not a part of the City, and no City funds are at issue. However, the City will follow the criminal proceedings and will take necessary and appropriate action as the circumstances and outcome dictate.”