Long Prairie Chamber director charged with misuse of funds

The director of the Long Prairie Chamber of Commerce Kimberley Burkett of Browerville was arrested by the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday as the result of an investigation conducted with the Todd County Sheriff’s Office and the Long Prairie Police Department.

The arrest was made on the basis of bank records indicating that Burkett had misused funds belonging to the Long Prairie Chamber of Commerce between mid-2011 to April 2012. Todd County court records allege that the thefts occurred from July 1, 2011, through April 30, and amounted to an estimated $29,191.28.

Burkett made an appearance in Otter Tail County Court Thursday, represnted by her attorney, Jason Hastings of Fergus Falls. She was charged with two counts of felony theft: theft over $5,000 and theft by swindle over $5,000.

Due to a potential conflict of interest, the case was introduced in Otter Tail County. “Since Burkett was employed by the city of Long Prairie, and her husband is employed by Todd County, Otter Tail County agreed to do this for Todd County,” said Otter Tail prosecuting attorney Michelle Eldien. “Counties sometimes agree to do this for each other.”

Burkett’s first appearance combined two hearings, on Rule 5 regarding being advised of the charges against her and her right to an attorney, and on Rule 8 regarding providing disclosures such as reports.

“Since the charges involved a property crime and she had no jail history, she was released on her own recognizance,” said Eldien. “The next hearing is typically scheduled within 30 days, and it will be in Todd County. I will be handling the case until the end.”