Bearden pleads not guilty to Republican Party theft charges

Michael Bearden, File Photo

The former Tama County Republican Central Committee treasurer has pled not guilty to multiple theft charges, a fraud charge, and a campaign finance violation charge that was brought by the Iowa Attorney General’s office earlier this month.

Michael Bearden of Gladbrook entered a written arraignment May 12. He is being represented by attorney Mark R. Brown from Cedar Rapids.

Bearden was charged with first degree theft, second degree theft, fraudulent practice and unlawful use of campaign funds.

Between January 2020 and April 2021 Bearden allegedly stole funds in excess of $10,000 from the Crayon Corner Learning Center in Gladbrook.

He is also being charged with theft in the second degree of checks exceeding $1,500 but not over $10,000 drawn on accounts belonging to the Tama County Republican Party Central Committee.

According to court documents filed by the Iowa Attorney General’s office, from January 2020 through April 2021, Bearden is alleged to have willfully violated Chapter 68A of the Iowa Code relating to campaign finance while serving as the Tama County Republican Party treasurer.

Bearden is also claimed to have fraudulently entered records of the Tama County Republican Party in a report submitted to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, knowing the report to be false. The value involved exceeded $750 but did not exceed $1,000.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is conducting the investigation.

A jury trial is scheduled for September 13 at 9 a.m.