BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD - 2005
In this land of 10,000 lakes, it seems like our big fish are really only suited for little ponds. But by almost any measure, Pat Forciea was a big fish. This was the DFL operative, after all, who was widely considered to be one of the masterminds behind the election of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, and who had close ties to former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe and Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar. Forciea, turns out, also had a presence in big-time athletics, having once done some work for the North Stars and the Twins, and as an associate athletic director at the University of Minnesota. It was at this latter post that Forciea managed to skim $10,000 in 2001 from a ticket promotion that drew the attention of authorities last March. By June, the 46-year-old was under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI for fraud and embezzlement to the tune of $4 million. The Iron Range native and St. Thomas grad admitted that he had suffered for years from bipolar disorder. Either way, the hits kept coming. By July, he was pleading to counts of wire fraud and bank fraud that helped him buy two minor league hockey teams in Iowa. In November, he was tossed in jail for filing false loan applications for online college courses he wanted to take for the five to six years he was to be in prison. Though Forciea was amazingly contrite, he was sentenced to eight years in the pokey last November, with U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum telling him, "Sir, you have left a trail of carnage in your wake." All told, Forciea had pilfered some $5.6 million. In January, he pled guilty to the original theft of $10,000 that started his fall from grace.