BROOKINGS — An employee of the City of Brookings faces grand theft charges after being arrested for stealing from the Brookings Ice Skating Association, the nonprofit group that supports youth hockey in Brookings.
Paul Laleman, a parks technician with the city, was arrested and jailed briefly Monday on charges of stealing more than $7,000 from the locked concession stand at Larson Ice Center in Brookings, which he had access to because of his job.
Parks and Rec employees work at Larson Ice Center in various jobs, including maintaining the ice and facility.
According to court documents, BISA officials noticed discrepancies from the amount of money that was supposed to be in the concessions lock box and the amounts found later on shortly before Christmas.
On Dec. 3, $1,080 was gone, and money was again found to be short on Dec. 16 and 17, when a total of $990 was missing.
BISA installed covert cameras to attempt to catch the thief and Laleman, 40, was seen on camera stealing money from the drop box multiple times.
All told, more than $7,000 was stolen.
Brookings Police interviewed Laleman on Monday and according to their probable cause statement, he admitted to the thefts. He was arrested and booked into the Brookings County Detention Center and charged with grand theft, a class 4 felony in South Dakota.
BISA President John Kahle issued a statement to members early Monday afternoon which read:
“Earlier today, an individual suspected of stealing money from the Brookings Ice Skating Association was apprehended by authorities. As the investigation is still ongoing, we cannot provide any further details at this time. We would like to express our gratitude to the Brookings Police Department, the SD Division of Criminal Investigation, the City of Brookings, and several parent volunteers within our organization for their help in this matter.”
When asked for comment by the Register, Kahle expressed shock that someone would steal from a nonprofit group dedicated to helping Brookings and area children.
“This theft is hard to understand, how or why someone could do this and negatively affect our youth hockey association financially,” Kahle said. “Thankfully, we have checks and balances in place that we’re able to catch the discrepancies. We’ll work through this and will come out of this situation stronger than we were yesterday.”
In response to a request from the Brookings Register for comment, City Manager Paul Briseno sent the following statement:
“City staff have been and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on their investigation into this matter. Beyond that, we do not comment on personnel matters.”
Briseno would not comment on whether Laleman, 40, was still employed by the City of Brookings.
Laleman is also listed as the treasurer for the Brookings Basketball Association online. He was no longer listed on the inmate roster at BCDC as of 2:30 Monday afternoon.
Linehan is the Register’s managing editor and welcomes comments at email@example.com