Do prosecutors have a case against Kurt Virgin, a former sports coach and camp coordinator accused of swindling money from Eagan High School?
Not according to Virgin's defense attorney, Paul Rogosheske.
Rogosheske filed for a contested omnibus hearing during Virgin's first appearance in Dakota County court on Tuesday. In his filing, the attorney argues that much of the prosecution's evidence in the case is inadmissable because the prosecution broke the rules by using information gathered by the school district in its questioning of Virgin regarding his potential misconduct.
Earlier this year, Virgin was charged with six felony counts of theft by swindle following an investigation into his actions by both school district officials and Eagan police. Virgin was put on paid leave in 2011, and tendered his resignation in January 2012.
Investigators allege that Virgin skimmed $16,595.42 from registration fees and $12,589 from team fundraisers between 2009 and 2011, for a total loss to the school district of $29,184.42.
District officials, Rogosheske said, gave Virgin a Garrity warning before interviewing him in 2011 regarding his handling of sports program finances. A Garrity warning guarantees that information or self-incriminating statements obtained in an disciplinary interview will not be used against the subject in a criminal proceeding.
Despite the Garrity protections, Rogosheske said, prosecutors used the information obtained from Virgin during the hearing as the basis of their criminal case against him.
"You can’t do that, it’s black letter law," Rogosheske said.
But even that won't matter in the end, Rogosheske said, because Virgin didn't steal any money from the high school.
Virgin may not have run all of the sports program finances through school district channels, Rogosheske said, but he didn't keep any program money for personal use.
“He’s not taking a trip to Vegas and gambling the money, or building a pool in the backyard," Rogosheske said. "There wasn’t one dime that Kurt Virgin took from the school."
In fact, Virgin may have saved the school money, Rogosheske said. Because he ran the finances and paid coaches in cash, Virgin kept employees off the district's payroll. Virgin also accepted less in compensation by privately running the camps than he would have been paid if he went through district channels, Rogosheske said.
"He didn’t steal one red dime, and we’ll show that hands down," Rogosheske said.
Virgin is scheduled to appear in court again at a contested omnibus hearing at 9 a.m. on March 1, 2013.
Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom declined to immediately comment on the contested omnibus motion.
"We will be responding to Mr. Rogosheske’s claims prior to and at the next hearing in this case which is set for March 1st," Backstrom said in a written statement.
School District 196 spokesperson Tony Taschner said the district, as a general rule, does not issue Garrity warnings when interviewing employees. Taschner declined to comment specifically on whether district officials employed such a tactic when speaking with Virgin.
Clarification: This article has been changed to reflect a clarification. The prosecution, not the school district, would be responsible for a violation of Garrity rights under Attorney Paul Rogosheske's filing.