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Two former Hennepin County employees charged with stealing IT equipment, falsifying timecards

CBS Minnesota 12/2/2022 WCCO Staff

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two former Hennepin County employees face charges for their role in a massive scheme which included selling millions of dollars worth of the county's IT equipment and falsifying timecards.

Charges say that Nguyen Cong Le, a former IT Network Enterprise Manager, took network switches from the county and sold them to buyers in Oklahoma starting in 2012. By 2020, he'd sold roughly $3.9 million in equipment. 

Network switches cost the county anywhere between $1,170 and $15,210 depending on the model. It was Le's job to maintain an appropriate number of switches and ordering them from the vendor. His partner, Samantha Marks, helped him take roughly $14,000 of that equipment from the county, documents say.

Le was also Marks' supervisor, and over the course of her employment - which started in February of 2016 - he reviewed and approved her timecards. Marks did not use a single hour of paid time off between her start date and Jan. 31, 2020, and indicated that she worked 80 hours biweekly, which Le approved.

An investigation found, however, that she did little to no work during her tenure at the office; she used her card to enter county buildings twice between Dec. 1, 2018 and Feb. 19, 2020, and rarely replied to emails. 

On the day that Marks' and Le's child was born, Marks indicated that she worked a regular eight hour day and continued to work normal hours in the coming weeks.

Between September of 2016 and January 2020, Hennepin County paid her roughly $40 an hour, totaling $280,000 plus benefits. 

Both Le and Marks left the county on Feb. 21, 2020. The person who worked under Le who took over his role after he left the county said that asset management was "a mess" under Le, and that inventory was not being tracked.

Le was charged with six counts of theft by swindle, and Marks face two counts. The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.

"As soon as we became aware of possible criminal behavior, we referred this case to law enforcement. Following an investigation and criminal charges, the allegations detailed in the criminal complaint are simply outrageous and an absolute betrayal. If the defendants are found guilty, the county will ask for restitution," the county said in a statement.

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