Former Willmar golf club employee pleads guilty to theft
WILLMAR -- A former Eagle Creek Golf Club employee pleaded guilty Friday to stealing $89,000 from the club while he worked there as an assistant pro. Phillip Andrew Sam, 32, of Coon Rapids, is charged with one count of felony theft by swindle. Th...
WILLMAR - A former Eagle Creek Golf Club employee pleaded guilty Friday to stealing $89,000 from the club while he worked there as an assistant pro.
Phillip Andrew Sam, 32, of Coon Rapids, is charged with one count of felony theft by swindle. The money disappeared over a period of about six months, from March to September 2015. Sam, who resigned from the club that fall, had authorization to make purchases for the golf club during that time frame.
An investigation was launched after an Eagle Creek Golf Club board member reported the financial irregularities to the Willmar Police Department.
An audit and inventory of the pro shop found numerous sketchy transactions: missing bank deposits, receipts that didn't match deposits, checks recorded as received but not deposited, and more.
Suspicion fell on Sam after he allegedly "suddenly discovered one of the missing checks," according to the criminal complaint filed against him. Invoices also were discovered that showed approximately $6,000 worth of merchandise shipped directly to Sam's home.
Sam admitted to a Willmar Police Department detective that he took cash from deposit bags, used the club's credit card machine to refund money directly into his own debit account and falsified several other transactions, the complaint said.
He estimated the total amount at $21,000 and said he sold most of the merchandise, using the proceeds to feed a gambling habit.
A subsequent forensic audit found the fraud extended even wider, however, involving additional irregularities such as post-dated transactions and fictitious accounts set up for the alleged sale of golf clubs. In all, the loss to Eagle Creek was estimated at $89,000.
A sentencing date is pending.
Sam also was involved in a theft-by-swindle case in Mille Lacs County, where he was convicted in August of a gross misdemeanor. He was accused of stealing the proceeds of a fundraiser in 2014 on behalf of his 25-year-old stepbrother. The money, approximately $14,000, was supposed to help pay the young man's medical bills but was never turned over to him.
Sam served jail time for the theft and is currently on two years of supervised probation in Mille Lacs County on the conviction.