Sisters plead guilty to theft from township and Sunburg, Minnesota, church


— Two sisters alleged to have stolen nearly $100,000 from a church and a township in

Kandiyohi County

each pleaded guilty to four counts of felony theft.

Debra Kaye Hamborg, 61, of


, and Annette Marie Dingmann, 60, of


, each pleaded guilty in back-to-back hearings Sept. 1 in

Kandiyohi County District Court

. In exchange, several remaining theft counts against each of them will be dismissed.

According to the plea petitions for both Hamborg and Dingman, there will be no more than 30 days in executed jail time, and an additional 60-day staggered sentence may be waived if they remain compliant with pending conditions.

Per court records, $99,641.88 will be paid in restitution to both the

Sunburg Free Lutheran Church


Norway Lake Township


Hamborg pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by swindle and theft by taking transferable or movable property without consent. She admitted to knowingly taking funds and then attempting to cover it up while she was treasurer for both the church and township.

Dingmann also pleaded to two counts of theft by swindle and two counts of taking property without consent. When questioned by the judge, she admitted knowing the checks Hamborg wrote to her and other family members were from the accounts of both the church and township.

Dingmann also admitted to working with her sister in order to get money into accounts owned by her and two other family members. She maintained, as outlined in the complaint, that she was the only one in her family who knew the source of the funds.

Hamborg and Dingmann were both represented by Theresa Patock. Both agreed on the record, before they waived their rights to a trial, that they were sufficiently represented by Patock and had discussed at length the issues, including potential pitfalls and conflicts, that come from being represented by the same attorney,

Both women are currently on conditional release, including having no contact with the Sunburg Free Lutheran Church leadership or Norway Lake Township board members. They are also excluded from the church and Norway Lake Township building.

Hamborg is not allowed to leave Minnesota without court written approval.

Both women are currently scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 26 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

According to the criminal complaint, the alleged theft from Sunburg Free Lutheran Church totals more than $81,000 over five years from 2018 to 2022. It states there were fraudulent checks or charges totaling more than $18,000 from Norway Lake Township over two years, from 2020 to 2022, times at which Hamborg had access to both organizations' funds.

A deputy met with a member of the church in February of 2022 after Benson Bank had notified him of some suspicious checks being cashed.

The following day, deputies spoke with Hamborg at her residence. She said that she knew that law enforcement was there because she had been writing checks that she shouldn't have. According to the complaint, she mentioned her sister had been having financial problems after being the victim of identity theft and that she had written a couple of checks to help her and her family out.

Hamborg eventually provided carbon copies of the checks and the checkbook for the church.

Upon review, it was found that a total of $47,000 worth of checks had been written out to three family members and a dairy farm owned by the family from May 2, 2021 to May 2, 2022.

A partner in the dairy farm told the investigating detective that he noticed numerous checks over the past few years had been written from their farm checking account to two of his family members, including Dingmann. He said large deposits going into the farm account were comparable to the checks written out to the two relatives, according to the complaint.

Another bank provided copies of checks from the Sunburg Free Church account from 2016 to 2018. Bank staff estimated that the amount the church lost was higher than the one provided on the copies, according to the complaint.

Court records indicate a detective made contact with a Norway Lake Township Board member, who reported a review of the township's financial records had begun due to suspicions that Hamborg, the treasurer at that time, was embezzling money.

The board member reported to law enforcement that checks had been written out to several of Hamborg's family members.

He explained the township signs checks only at monthly meetings and that checks issued on other dates would be suspect, according to the complaint. He said the Norway Lake Township account is set up to require signatures of both the chairperson and the treasurer on checks and he suspected that Hamborg had been forging the chairperson's signature in order for the checks to clear.