Good Thunder, Minnesota mayor accused of embezzling city funds

Good Thunder Mayor Robert Anderson is accused of misusing city money for his own personal gain. (Blue Earth County Jail / Supplied)

The mayor of a small Minnesota city south of Mankato was arrested Wednesday, accused of misusing city money for his own gain.

Sixty-six-year-old Robert Anderson, the mayor of Good Thunder, Minnesota, is charged with embezzlement of public funds, theft, theft by swindle, and four counts of public officer interest in contract violation,

According to a criminal complaint filed on Thursday, Anderson was charged after an investigation by the Office of the State Auditor began looking into a complaint about a city purchase of a piece of property that neighbored Anderson's gas station on Sherman Street in Good Thunder.

The state auditor learned the property was purchased by the city for $50,000, under the condition that the seller also completes its sale of an adjacent piece of property to Anderson for $10,000.

State auditor finds other improper acts by Anderson

The investigation into the property sale led the state auditor to review other businesses between the mayor and the city.

Looking at invoices from the City of Good Thunder, state investigators found Anderson had billed the city through his trucking company for two rock-hauling jobs for a total of $2,723. According to the complaint, the auditor couldn't find evidence that the city approved either job.

The complaint details that the auditor's office found further evidence that the mayor had worked performed work on a sidewalk replacement project through another contractor. The auditor says the city reviewed two estimates for the project during an August 2021 meeting, but really only discussed one of the estimates. During the meeting, the auditor said Anderson had spoken with the contractor about "modifications" to the project and Anderson said he would perform some of the work.

The auditor says it appears Anderson performed Bobcat work during the sidewalk removal. The contractor was paid $54,000 for the job, but it's unclear if Anderson was paid for his work.

Finally, the auditor found 15 invoices between May 2021 and October 2021 from a company that shipped concrete to Anderson's gas station address.

The auditor said they found one discussion of a $4,000 bill for concrete during a May 2021 city council meeting – but said that bill didn't correspond with any of the invoices they had reviewed.

However, while looking at Anderson's business's social media page, they found a post on May 4, 2021 showing crews pouring concrete in the business parking lot.

The auditor asked for evidence that the city only paid for concrete used on city sidewalks. The city sent the state auditor's office a check dated April 19, 2022 for $975 that noted "cement." The city told the auditor that Anderson wrote the check to reimburse for some of the concrete it paid for.

But, the auditor wrote: "It appears the city paid $24,671 for concrete materials that were shipped to the Mayor's business location and that this use of public funds paid for certain non-city expenses."

In the complaint, deputies say the auditor's office said the city has not produced any documentation that shows "how much of [the $24,671], if any, was for legitimate city expenses."