Siblings: Maple Grove City Councilwoman abused power of attorney - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Siblings: Maple Grove City Councilwoman abused power of attorney

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MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (KMSP) -

LeAnn Sargent, a longtime Maple Grove City Council member, is being investigated after her siblings accused her of abusing her power of attorney rights to steal from their dying father. Now, police are collecting evidence from her home and combing through her finances just weeks before the election.

According to a search warrant filed in Hennepin County this week, Sargent became the center of a family financial mess after her 85-year-old father, Robert Bobleter, died in March. The warrant explains that Sargent's siblings became suspicious when $346 was all that was left in their father's bank account.

Councilwoman LeAnn Sargent is not facing criminal charges at this point, but her brother stands by every word of his allegations after bringing the case to police a few months ago.

The city administrator declined to comment, saying the issue was a personal matter -- and many members of the Maple Grove City Council told FOX 9 News they did not know about the investigation until our report aired.

Investigators learned Sargent had been granted power of attorney for her father in 2008. He lived with Sargent and her husband for the last two years of his life while he received hospice care.

Yet, in that time investigators found bank records showing more than $97,000 worth of cash advances, checks from her father's account totaling over $76,000, and unusual purchases and expenses totaling over $86,000 -- including payments to local spas, realtor-related payments and Miche handbags.

In addition to her City Council duties, Sargent is a licensed real estate broker and representative for Miche, featured recently in the local Patch.com news website.

The search warrant also notes Sargent and her husband Scott filed bankruptcy a year before her father died. They swore by affidavit their combined gross annual income for 2011 was $88,000, but made no mention Sargent was receiving money from her father, or expected anything from inheritance.

On Monday, officers used the warrant to seize a list of items from Sargent's home, including financial paperwork in file cabinets, a cell phone, computers and records from her late father's bedroom.

Just three days after police searched her home, Sargent was part of a candidate forum. Time will tell whether or not trying to get re-elected becomes the least of her worries.

Investigators are treating this as an alleged theft case and possible financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Attorney Joe Tamburino does not know Sargent and doesn't represent her, but says he'll be watching this case closely.

"What's the difference between someone being a bad manager of money and someone who is stealing? Here's the big difference: Criminal intent means you are taking someone's property or money without their consent or knowing they are doing it," he said. "If you are just a bad money manager, that's basically negligence."

Sargent first joined the Maple Grove City Council in 1991, and has also served as a liaison to the planning commission. Now, the public servant is having her private life examined. Sargent will be on the ballot next month when voters go to the polls. She declined to comment on the investigation.

Eden Prairie investigators expect to wrap up case centered around LeAnn Sargent in the next week or so. Then, prosecutors will review the case for possible criminal charges.

Eden Prairie detectives are handling the case in order to avoid conflict of interest in Maple Grove.

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