Former Braham Schools golf coach faces six counts of felony theft

By Rachel Kytonen

A former Braham Schools golf coach is facing six felony theft charges relating to golf card fundraisers.

David Brian Nickles, 49, Braham, was charged Aug. 25 in 10th Judicial District Court in Cambridge with three felony charges of theft by swindle; and three felony charges of theft-take/use/transfer movable property without consent.

The charges stem the alleged thefts took place from Jan. 1, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2008 with a value of $630; Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2009 with a value of $1,510; and Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2010 with a value of $1,350.

Nickles appeared before Judge P. Hunter Anderson and was released on his own recognizance, with his next court appearance scheduled for Oct. 27.

According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 22, 2010 Investigator Rob Bowker of the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department met with Braham Schools Superintendent Greg Winter. Superintendent Winter told Bowker that Nickles, the golf coach, had been purchasing golf cards through Birdie Marketing and selling them as a fundraiser for the team.

Investigator Bowker was provided records from the years 2006 to 2010 from Birdie Marketing, who provided the cards to Nickles for the fundraisers.

The complaint outlined discrepancies in 2006 and 2007, and the following is a timeline associated with the alleged thefts from 2008 through 2010:

• In 2008, 50 cards ($20 each) were ordered for a cost of $1,000 and 21 cards were sold at $30 each for a total of $630 and 29 cards were returned to Birdie Marketing. However, no deposits were made, costing the district $630.

• In 2009, 70 cards ($20 each) were ordered for a cost of $1,400 and 31 cards were sold at $30 each for a total of $930. A deposit was made for $1,060 and 39 cards were unaccounted for and not returned to Birdie Marketing. The total loss for the district in 2009 was $1,510.

• In 2010, 50 cards were ordered ($20 each) and the school district paid $1,000 up front, $700 was made as a deposit, and 30 cards were unaccounted for and not returned to Birdie Marketing. The total loss to the district in 2010 was $1,350 reflecting the amount paid up front, and 30 cards unaccounted for.

Superintendent Winter told Bowker on Sept. 27, 2010 he received a personal check from Nickles in the amount of $1,180 and a note from Nickles summarizing mistakes he made in running the fundraiser and attempting to pay for the missing funds. Nickles also provided a spreadsheet to try to explain the shortcomings in the accounts. One reason Nickles gave was he paid bonuses for the players selling the cards and petty cash payments to the players, golf courses and pro shops.

Bowker followed-up with players on the golf team who said they were never paid any bonuses for selling the golf cards. Bowker also did not find any information that payments were made to golf courses and pro shops from Nickles to account for the missing money and/or cards.

Superintendent Winter said Tuesday, Sept. 6, that Nickles is currently on leave from the school district.