Maple Grove council member facing perjury, exploitation charges
Maple Grove City Councilor Leann Bobleter Sargent has been charged in Hennepin County District Court with two counts of perjury and one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She is innocent until proven guilty. Sargent has been on the Maple Grove City Council for the past 23 years.
Charges were formally introduced via a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 29, through the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
According to the criminal complaint, a detective with the Eden Prairie Police Department investigated the allegations of perjury and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. This was done to prevent a potential conflict of interest with Maple Grove Police.
The perjury charges stem from police investigating after Sargent’s father, Robert E. Bobleter, died in March 2012 and found that Bobleter’s bank records show that Sargent received $153,000 from Bobleter from 2009 to March 2011. The criminal complaint states the money came in the form of checks and cash advances from Bobleter’s bank accounts and credit cards.
Sargent was power of attorney for her father, granting her power to conduct transactions relating to real estate, personal property and banking.
In 2009, the complaint states Sargent received $86,624 from her father. In February 2010, after hospitalization, Bobleter moved into Sargent’s home in Maple Grove where he lived until his death in 2012.
The complaint states a “Room and Board Agreement dated Nov. 17, 2010, notarized and signed by Sargent and Bobleter” was found. This agreement stated Bobleter agreed to pay Sargent $500 a month for room and board. Also found was a Personal Care Agreement dated Nov. 17, 2010, notarized and signed by Sargent and Bobleter. This agreement stated “Bobleter agreed to pay Sargent $1,500 a month for personal care services, including meal preparation, laundry, transportation, housekeeping, errand running, banking/bill paying, grocery shoping and bathing/grooming/dressing.”
In 2010, the complaint states Sargent received $59,934 from her father. In 2011, she received $7,000 from her father.
The complaint states in February 2011, Sargent and her husband jointly filed Chapter 7 Volunteer Petition to the United States Bankruptcy Court. Sargent identified her occupation as a Maple Grove City Councilmember and listed her gross monthly income wages at $1,042.17, the complaint states. She also listed $500 per month in her income. The complaint states Sargent did not identify the $1,5000 a month has income she received from her father. Because of this and the cash advances she received from her father she did not state in bankruptcy court under oath, she was charged with two counts of perjury.
The exploitation charges stem from police investigating after Bobleter’s death as well. The complaint stated Bobleter suffered from chronic kidney disease. “Bobleter’s primary care physician, Dr. Robert Sicora, [stated] Bobleter experienced a gradual decline in his health after moving in with Sargent.”
From April 2011 until this death. Bobleter received at-home health care services from nurses and home health aides at least once a week.
The complaint mentioned the personal care and room and board agreements between Sargent and Bobleter. According to the complaint, Sargent was to receive $2,000 a month, but between April 2011 and March 2012, she received “$26,350 in checks from Bobleter’s account as well as withdrawing $18,250 in cash from Bobleter’s checking and money market accounts and took $6,124 in cash advances against Bobleter’s Visa credit card.”
During this time period, Sargent charged approximately $14,794 to Bobleter’s Visa credit card for handbag purchases and purchase from spas, the complaint said.
The complaint said on Feb. 29, 2012, Sargent took out a $58,000 mortgage loan on an unencumbered cabin in Morrison County that was own by Bobleter. Upon Bobleter’s death, his son, Robert E. Bobleter Jr., and Sargent were to divide the cabin equally. Also upon Bobleter’s death, Sargent was to get Bobleter’s Maple Grove home as a gift. The complaint states in 2010, Sargent took out a $58,000 mortgage on the cabin. Sargent transferred $38,836.37 from this mortgage in 2012 to pay the outstanding balance on the mortgage loan on Bobleter’s Maple Grove home.
The complaint investigator said, “I have concluded that in breach of that fiduciary obligation, Sargent intentionally used, managed, or took the real or personal property or other financial resources of Bobleter for the benefit of someone other than Bobleter, namely herself, and that the amount of property or financial resources that Sargent took was in excess of $35,000.”
Each perjury charge is a felony and carries up to five years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine if charged. The financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult charge is a felony and if convicted, Sargent could face up to 20 years in jail and/or a $100,000 fine.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at the press conference, “This is disturbing. Not only is the an exploitation of her father, that violates very rule of decency we know. It brings me no joy to bring this to you … but it’s something that needs to be prosecuted.”
Sargent’s attorney, Chris Ritts, could not be reached for comment before deadline.
Maple Grove City Administrator Al Madsen stated this issue is still “a personal family matter and has nothing to do with her role as a City Council member.” He added there should be no speculation about a council seat vacancy either.