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Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Published
May 11, 2006

The Million Dollar Man

Last November I had great fun writing about the dirty business which may have helped launch Jim Obertstarís career as one of Washington DC 's preeminent pork chasers. My column casually mentioned, Don Boyd, a man who was endlessly described by the press during the scandal as the principal suspect behind the embezzlement of a million Federal dollars.

A couple days after the Reader came out I got an email which said, ďAs the accused recipient of $1mil I have read your writings with a mixed review.  Perhaps you may be interested in publishing the rest of the story, I am willing to share.  Don C. BoydĒ

Don has quite a story. Heís already put 700 pages of it into print. Heís had twenty-five years to dig up evidence to prove that he was framed. All of it was denied him during his trial including the inked out documents that the FBI only grudgingly surrendered to him after Don invoked the Freedom of Information Act.

Just before Donís arrest he was the chief engineering inspector for Republic Steel in Silver Bay . He was the founder and President of Seaway Engineering. His real estate company owned a hotel in Two Harbors. He was a consultant with the U.S. Department of Commerce on business development and, in that role, co-authored a big fat book on how to develop Northeastern Minnesota ís tourism economy. He also owned a sand and gravel pit with reserves estimated to be worth $15 million dollars. The FBI agents who arrested Don told him they calculated that his businesses could have been worth $80 million dollars by the year 2000.

He was arrested one day before inking a deal to provide sand and rock to Reserve Mining for their Milepost Seven Reservoir. That deal alone would have been worth a million dollars a year over the course of the damís construction. Anybody with his fingers in so many pies would have been a natural suspect in the event of embezzlement simply because they were clever, industrious, and entrepreneurial.

The media, following the FBIís lead, painted Don as the likely recipient of Federal money that had been funneled through the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission which was staffed by Governor Andersonís appointees. It was also the unofficial campaign headquarters for Jim Oberstar who was running for Congress.

Eventually the FBI accountants gave up trying to prove that Don had taken any of this money. However, they were under pressure from lots of big shots sweating out the investigation. They charged Don with conspiracy to use the post office to defraud the Federal government. The amount of money they alleged that Don had tried to steal was a paltry $65,000. Don was convicted on the word of one of his employees, Jim Manos, who was desperately fighting off jail time as the IRS pressed him to pay back taxes. After Don got out of prison he was able to prove to the IRS that at least $37,000 of the $65,000 he served time for stealing went instead to Michael Pintar who ran the Commission. As for the other $28,000, or indeed the million missing dollars, no one has ever accounted for it, any of it.

The man whose testimony sent Don Boyd to prison and ended the investigation of whether kickbacks got funneled into political campaigns was hired to manage a commercial real estate firm owned by friends of Governor Anderson. His annual salary was $100,000 dollars. Manos never said anything more about the Upper Great Lakes Commission for the ten years he held this job. Boyd says that six months before Manos died of lung cancer he told Boyd that he only did what he had to do to stay out of jail.

Because Donís businesses could not function without him after his sudden arrest he became an instant pauper represented by a public defender. This lawyer was chosen by friends and acquaintances of some of the people most eager to see the investigation ended.

While he was in prison in Sandstone one of the FBI agents who had arrested him invited Don to visit him in Oklahoma when he got out of jail. He told Don that he had never offered a similar invitation to anyone else that heíd arrested.

This may all be poppycock. Its Donís story not mine but Iíve decided to make his 700 page manuscript my summer reading and writing project. Iíd like to whittle it down to 200 pages. Iíll be doing my work online chapter by chapter and anyone who wants to look over my shoulders while Iím fussing with it is welcome to.

After 34 years representing the people of Northeastern Minnesota in Congress Jim Oberstar is worth between $3,694,089 and $8,885,000. He married a rich wife who, like Tom Delayís wife, is (or was) a lobbyist. They have a nice home out East. Don jokes that these days even his haircuts are charity.

That FBI man who invited Don to his Oklahoma home also told Don to watch his back after he got out of prison. Although Don doesnít have a photograph proving it he told me that shortly after he got out of prison a van pulled in front of his car on the Interstate. Its back doors swung open to reveal a man pointing a gun at his car. I doubt if Iíll put this in the book though because itís just too absurd. This is Minnesota for crying out loud!

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.lincolndemocrat.com