Former Forest Lake Firefighter Sentenced to 45 Months for Theft

Created: 11/15/2012 2:29 PM By: Jennie Olson

A former Forest Lake firefighter was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after being convicted of three felony theft charges.

Forty-four-year-old John David Berken of Columbus pleaded guilty in September to three charges of theft by swindle. He was sentenced to 45 months in prison Wednesday.

According to the criminal complaint, Berken wrote checks on closed accounts of his former businesses. He deposited the checks and then withdrew the money before the banks and credit unions noticed they were from closed accounts. This took place from June 27, 2011, to May 17, 2012.

Berken was also ordered to pay restitution of $92,000, which was the amount he stole. The restitution hearing will be Wednesday, Nov. 21.

Berken has other felony convictions of theft and check forgery dating back to 1991. He was also convicted of intentionally setting a 1,500-acre blaze at the Carlos Avery Wildlife Refuge in April 2009 and was convicted of threatening to blow up Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie in January 1991.