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Ex-director stole nearly $30,000 from Minnesota nursing home that closed amid financial troubles, charges say

Twin Valley Living Center.jpg
The Twin Valley (Minn.) Living Center closed in November 2018 for financial reasons. It's one of more than two dozen rural nursing homes to close in the state since 2007. Peter Cox / MPR News
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TWIN VALLEY, Minn. — A former director of a Twin Valley nursing home is accused of stealing nearly $30,000 from the facility that closed last year for financial reasons.

Shari Ann Schreiner, 54, of Ulen, Minn., is scheduled to appear Wednesday, Nov. 13, in Norman County District Court on four felony charges of theft.

The charges were filed in late October after law enforcement investigated Schreiner for suspected embezzlement. The bookkeeper for the Twin Valley Living Center noticed in July 2018 that Schreiner allegedly wrote several checks to herself using the facility’s account, according to a criminal complaint.

The checks written between Nov. 10, 2017, and Jan. 9, 2018, totaled more than $28,000 and were not approved by the living center board, the complaint said. Three of the checks were designated as bonuses, and there was no supporting documentation for the fourth, the complaint said.

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Police were contacted about the suspected embezzlement Aug. 6, 2018, almost two weeks after the board held a meeting July 25, 2018, to discuss the bookkeeper’s findings, the complaint said. Schreiner resigned effective immediately the day of the meeting.

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Investigators were set to meet with Schreiner on Sept. 21, 2018, to discuss the investigation, but she cancelled the meeting that day after news outlets reported possible embezzlement at the nursing home, according to court documents.
A Sept. 19, 2018, article by WDAY said the nursing home announced it would close its doors, which resulted in 58 employees losing their jobs. Another article said 30 residents were forced from the center.

Leadership cited financial reasons and a struggle to fill beds — Minnesota Public Radio reported about 70% of the beds were occupied when the facility closed Nov. 21, 2018.

But family members of nursing home residents alleged embezzlement may have played a role in the closing. The Forum's attempts to reach Schreiner by phone were unsuccessful Wednesday, Nov. 6. The newspaper also reached out to Lutheran Homes, which owned Twin Valley Living Center, but the nonprofit group did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

A University of Minnesota Extension Service study predicted the nursing home’s shuttering would impact not only its employees but also community members and the economy in Twin Valley and Norman County. The county would lose an economic output of $5.3 million, the study said.

“Beyond jobs at the nursing home, workers at Main Street businesses — restaurants, grocery stores, and general merchandise retailers — will see their jobs affected as nursing home workers have less disposable income to spend in the community,” the study said. “Businesses supplying the nursing home, such as wholesalers, electric companies, and real estate will also be affected.”

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The study noted that former nursing home employees could find other job opportunities due to the tight labor market, and “the effects of lost income should dissipate relatively quickly.”

“The lost business-to-business transactions, however, may linger as suppliers adjust,” the study said.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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