By WCCO-TV Staff

Originally published April 8, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The former chief of the Alexandria Police Department was arrested Friday for allegedly swindling the west-central Minnesota city for years, using a government-issued credit card for all manner of personal purchases, from computer equipment to gasoline, and covering it up by means of his position of authority.

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The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says Richard Wyffels, 57, was arrested Friday at his home in Alexandria and booked into the Douglas County Jail on a charge of theft by swindle. He is expected to make his initial court appearance in the coming days.

According to a criminal complaint, state investigators received a report of “numerous purchasing improprieties” following Wyffels’ retirement from the force in 2020. The report prompted BCA investigators to probe into records from the city, police and financial institutions, as well as into Wyffels’ financess and eBay and PayPal accounts.

(credit: Douglas County)

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What investigators discovered was that between December of 2014 and July of 2020, there was more than $65,000 worth of purchases Wyffels made on his city-issued credit card that could not be found at the department or needed for any legitimate police work. These purchases included TVs, cell phones, computer equipment, lawncare tools, a newspaper subscription, a spotting scope, and a “significant number of fuel purchases” exceeding the amount of gallons his squad car could hold at a given time.

Some of these items were found in Wyffels’ home, the complaint states. These were things like Wi-Fi gadgets, lights switches, door handles, and cameras. Others, such as the spotting scope, were sold through his eBay account. The scope, which he brought with a city credit card for nearly $5,000, he sold for roughly $3,700. He allegedly sold at least 10 other items over the internet totaling roughly $12,000.

The complaint states that Wyffels used his position of power to authorize his purchases over the years, operating outside the normal processes set by the city government. The BCA’s investigation into the alleged fraud remains ongoing.

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The Stearns County Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Douglas County Attorney’s Office, so as to protect against any conflict of interest. If Wyffels is convicted of the swindling charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.