KLGR file photo

A Sleepy Eye bar owner is accused of stealing gambling funds from the local ice arena association. Dane Allen Burton, 26, was charged Thursday in Brown County Court with felony counts of theft and unauthorized sale/possession of gambling equipment.

A criminal complaint says members of the Sleepy Eye Arena Association Charitable Gambling contacted Sleepy Eye Police to report that Burton, the owner of Poppy’s Bar & Play (formerly the Railway & Jerry’s) was refusing to communicate with them or allow access to the bar to obtain over $7,500 of the organization’s money.

Burton’s ex-girlfriend told police the couple had broken up on Feb 7 and they had lived in the apartment upstairs from the bar, which was purchased by contract-for-deed.  The woman – who also had managed the bar – said the business had not been open since the couple broke up because there were no patrons, snow removal wasn’t done, and no trespassing signs were posted on the windows.

Burton’s ex also told police he had threatened to tell investigators she left the bar doors unlocked and blame her for the missing money.

A criminal complaint said the Charitable Gambling Board had supplied Poppy’s with $7,000 in cash for the pull tab games.  A board member said he had tried knocking on the bar doors and calling both Burton and his ex without success.

Court documents say the State Gambling Control Board told Sleepy Eye police that Burton was required to make the gambling equipment and funds available to the board.

Police tried to visit Burton at the bar and tried calling him, but received no response.  After consulting with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Alcohol, and Gambling Enforcement, Sleepy Eye Police executed a search warrant at Poppy’s Bar, where investigators found the pull tab boxes, unopened boxes of new pull tabs, and other equipment belonging to the gambling association.