Rochester man pleads not guilty in stolen Bobcats case

Published 6:44 am Friday, December 18, 2009

A Rochester man accused of swindling a local businessman with stolen Bobcats pleaded not guilty to several felony charges Thursday.

Eric Lee Rindels, 30, is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Feb. 26. His trial would then begin March 8.

According to a court complaint, Rindels sold two Bobcat excavating devices to Paul Nielsen, 68, owner of Nielsen’s Sales in Austin.

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The Bobcats were sold in October 2007 and May 2008.

In August 2008, one of those two Bobcats was deemed stolen by a man in Ames, Iowa, who had purchased it from Nielsen.

The man in Ames was doing work on the Bobcat and discovered a serial number under the cage that was different from the exterior serial number — and also a match with a Bobcat reported stolen from Scott County.

A few weeks before that, another man from Des Moines, Iowa, reported that a Bobcat he was looking to purchase from Nielsen was also stolen out of Scott County.

Scott County investigators met with Nielsen, who said he’d been doing business with Rindels for a few years without problems.

He said he checked the Bobcats when he purchased them and they had not been reported stolen.

Nielsen noted that Rindels had shown him a list of other equipment for sale and asked Nielsen for a down payment of $3,000 in July 2008.

No equipment was delivered and Nielsen did not receive the $3,000 back, according to the complaint.

Investigators spoke with Rindels, who said he had taken the $3,000 from Nielsen but was unable to get the equipment or pay him back to date.

As far as the Bobcats, Rindels said he had purchased them from a man named Aaron Day, who he said he met at a construction site.

Rindels said he didn’t know anything else about Day, but said he did see him often at gas stations in Rochester.

He said he didn’t have receipts from the purchases — one of which he said was completed in Sioux Falls, S.D. — or contact information for Day.

Scott County investigators located a Mille Lacs County man named Aaron Day that matched Rindels’ physical description, but local authorities said it was unlikely that this Aaron Day would travel frequently to gas stations in Rochester.