UPDATED: Former Beltrami County employee charged with fraud, theft

Updated 12/8: Charges dismissed against Pula. Learn more here.

The former head of Beltrami County’s IT department is facing 14 counts of felony theft, fraud and receiving stolen property.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday, 64-year-old Ronald Pula, a longtime employee of the county, was head of the Management of Information Services department and is accused of using county funds to purchase hundreds of items for non-county business use.

The Minnesota State Auditor’s Office conducted the investigative audit and found $146,594 in county purchases that appear to have been made for non-business purposes.

The criminal complaint accuses Pula of using county money to make a series of purchases from late 2019 through late 2021.

A search of Pula’s residence found over 200 items totaling $49,724, which included tools, computers and other electronic equipment.

In a search of Pula’s farm property, another 90 items totaling an estimated $23,308 were found.

While many county employees were working from home during the pandemic, a number of items purchased with the county’s credit card were allegedly shipped right to his home.

Detective Robert Huckeby of the Ottertail County Sheriff’s Office was assigned to investigate after a county-wide inventory revealed a number of missing assets purchased by the Information Services department.

The state is seeking an aggravated sentence.

Pula will make his first court appearance on Jan. 6.

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