MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The sister of a mentally retarded woman allegedly swindled by a former Minnesota Appeals Court judge long opposed the judge as trustee of the woman's account, according to a published report.
Terry Rossi Lund said former Appeals Court Judge Roland Amundson didn't return her phone calls for five years and didn't appear to care for her sister, the Star Tribune reported Sunday.
Rossi Lund told the newspaper that she opposed Amundson as trustee in a letter to a Hennepin County judge in 1994. "I didn't feel good about him from the very beginning," she said.
Prosecutors have charged Amundson, 52, with five counts of felony theft by swindle for allegedly stealing more than $300,000 between February 1999 and September 2000 from the fund.
His lawyer, Ron Meshbesher, said Amundson will plead guilty and attributed his actions to depression after his mother died in 1997. Amundson, of Eden Prairie, has resigned from the Appeals Court and as trustee of the account.
Lund also said she thinks Amundson's former law firm overcharged the estate in settling the will of the woman's father. Court records show about $200,000 in such fees.
The firm said the legal fees were justified and that Amundson was the most qualified person to be trustee.
Amundson was named trustee by the woman's father, a local beer distributor who died in 1989. He got to know Amundson when the judge was executive secretary for the Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association.
One of the man's greatest concerns was the future of his daughter, who had the mental age of a 3-year-old, was prone to aggressive behavior and required 24-hour supervision. The Star Tribune did not identify the woman.
In 1995, Amundson wrote about needing to protect the trust from unnecessary expenses. But within years, prosecutors charged, he was writing checks that took at least $300,000 from the trust to buy sculptures, marble floors and other extravagances.
The allegations contrast sharply with his reputation as a brilliant and caring judge who inspired fierce loyalty in his close friends.
Amundson had "the most highly developed social consciousness" of anyone, said Vivian Jenkins Nelsen, the president and chief executive of Inter-Race Institute, a local think tank on diversity issues.
Former state Sen. Allan Spear recalled how Amundson "kind of prided himself on ethical standards," studying theology along with law.
Amundson's first court appearance was scheduled for March 18.
Despite the issues raised by the disabled woman's sister and conservator Karen Dove, Amundson remained the trustee, with court approval.
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