A former accounting assistant for the St. Paul School District pled guilty Friday to stealing more than $81,000 from his employer.
James Allen Elwood, 63, of Woodbury, pled guilty to one count of felony theft of public funds.
According to the criminal complaint, Elwood altered school district Xcel Energy documents to divert school district funds into his home Xcel utility account.
Elwood then claimed overpayments on his personal account and received large refunds, the complaint alleges.
Elwood worked in the accounting department from 2006 until August 2009. In February 2006, he owed $2,047 to Xcel, and had missed his January payment.
"The amount of the balance due appears to indicate that James Allen Elwood was experiencing difficulty keeping up with his Xcel Energy bills," the complaint said.
Elwood received 10 refund checks from Xcel Energy totaling $50,500, apparently without arousing suspicion, the complaint said.
But when Elwood requested a $18,980 refund, the utility company launched an investigation.
Xcel Energy determined that the credit balance and regularly monthly payments had been made using St. Paul Public School District funds.
Under a plea agreement, Elwood will serve jail time, perform community service, and pay back the money.