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3M Engineer Embezzled More Than $5.6 Million From Company


December 15, 2010 - U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Brookings, South Dakota man appeared before U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange and pled guilty to an information charging mail fraud.

Former 3M engineer David Beulke, age 62, admitted to devising an embezzlement scheme that lasted over 15 years and resulted in a total theft from 3M of $5,610,563. 

Court documents detail Beulke's scheme, in which he created fraudulent businesses and held them out to 3M as legitimate vendors of specialized parts. Beulke would then cause 3M to place orders for supposed parts with those fake businesses, knowing those orders were fraudulent.  

When 3M would send money for those phony parts orders, Beulke would receive and keep the money. Pleadings indicate that $2,479,690.72 was seized from various investment and retirement accounts that Beulke funded with stolen money.


"This was a large-scale scheme that was highly orchestrated and went undetected for many years." U.S. Attorney Johnson said. "I am encouraged by our ability to initially recover a large sum of the stolen money, and I hope this prosecution will deter others."

The maximum penalty for mail fraud is 20 years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. Beulke will also be ordered to pay restitution. He was released pending sentencing which is scheduled for April 1, 2011. This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Koliner is prosecuting the case. 

3M Company, formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul. 

With over 76,000 employees, they produce over 55,000 products, including: adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, dental products, electronic materials, medical products electronic circuits and optical films. 3M has operations in more than 60 countries – 29 international companies with manufacturing operations, and 35 with laboratories. 3M products are available for purchase through distributors and retailers in more than 200 countries, and many 3M products are available online directly from the company. 


3M started out on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Illgen City before moving to Two Harbors, Minnesota in 1902. The company moved to Duluth, Minnesota, and then to Saint Paul, Minnesota, staying for 15 years before outgrowing the campus and moving to its current headquarters at 3M Centre in Maplewood. The new campus in Maplewood is 475 acres (1.92 km2) and has over 50 buildings, including an Innovation Center that displays products 3M has taken to market. The company began by mining stone from quarries for use in grinding wheels.


Struggling with quality and marketing of its products, management supported its workers to innovate and develop new products which became its core business. Twelve years after being founded, 3M developed its first exclusive product: Three-M-ite cloth. Other innovations in this era included masking tape, waterproof sandpaper and Scotch brand tapes.  

By 1929 3M made its first moves toward international expansion by forming Durex to conduct business in Europe. The same year, the company’s stock was first traded over the counter and in 1946 listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company is currently a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and of the S&P 500.

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