Man charged with using Xcel energy to steal thousands from employer

An accounting assistant for the St. Paul School District has been charged with stealing over $81,000 from his employer.

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office charged James Allen Elwood on Wednesday with felony theft of public funds.

Elwood, 63, allegedly altered school district Xcel Energy documents to divert school district funds into his home Xcel utility account, according to the criminal complaint.

Elwood then claimed overpayments on his personal account and received large refunds, the complaint alleges.

Elwood worked in the accounting department from 2006 until this August. 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.

When Elwood requested a $18,980 refund on his residential Xcel Energy account, the utility company launched an investigation, the complaint said.

By the time the investigation was launched, Elwood had already received ten refund checks from Xcel Energy totaling $50,500.

Xcel Energy determined that the credit balance and regularly monthly payments had been made using St. Paul Public School District funds.

"This type of theft is a shocking violation of a public trust," said County Attorney Susan Gaertner.

If convicted, Elwood could face 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.

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