U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
PRESS RELEASE. Monday, March 20, 2006
Contact: Rachel K. Paulose, United States Attorney (612) 664-5600 Karen Bailey, Media Coordinator (612) 664-5610 Joe Dixon , Assistant United States Attorney (612) 664-5600
St. Paul, MN - Former Minnesota State Representative Loren George Jennings was sentenced today in United States District Court for using his office to steer $650,000 in state conservation funds to Northern Pole, Inc., a company in which he held a financial interest. Jennings, age 54, from Harris, MN, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. Judge Richard Kyle also ordered Jennings to pay $284,398 in restitution to state conservation funds and to forfeit $284,398 to the United States. Jennings is scheduled to surrender for service of his sentence on May 2, 2006. A federal jury convicted Jennings in July 2005 of two counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. Jennings served in the Minnesota State House of Representatives from 1985 to 2002. During his tenure, Jennings served as chairman of the House Regulated Industries Committee, which oversaw legislation regarding utility companies. Evidence during trial showed that in early 1999, Jennings used his position as a State Representative to author, promote, and pass legislation permitting utility companies to utilize state-required conservation funds for a type of research and development project done by Northern Pole, a company that owed Jennings approximately $670,000.
After the legislation was enacted, Jennings then used his position and influence as a State Representative to pressure utility companies to give conservation funds to Northern Pole. Jennings also lobbied the Commissioner of Commerce to approve the funding. From September 1999 through February 2002, utility companies gave $650,000 in conservation funds to Northern Pole, from which over $284,398 was used to make payments on Jennings' loans. Only a fraction of the conservation funds were used as intended. Jennings told colleagues and others that Northern Pole was merely a constituent in which he had no other interest and concealed the financial gain resulting from the legislation he initiated, promoted, and voted to enact. United States Attorney Rachel K. Paulose affirmed the commitment of the United States Attorney's Office to prosecuting public corruption as one of its top priorities: "Citizens have a right to clean government, and this Office will endeavor to ensure confidence in our public institutions by prosecuting to the full extent of the law those who violate the public's trust." "The success of this case was due in large part to the hard work and dedication of investigating agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General; and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, whose tenacity and perseverance propelled the investigation." Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. Dixon successfully prosecuted the case.
Last Updated 3/24/06