Boyfriend of former St. Kate’s dean also now faces charges of swindling $400K from the school

13 May 2024

Prosecutors on Monday charged the boyfriend of a former St. Catherine University dean for his role in the couple’s alleged embezzling of more than $400,000 from the St. Paul school through bogus contracts with his healthcare consulting company.

Juan Ramon Bruce, 56, of Shakopee faces the same charges as former university nursing dean Laura Jean Fero — six counts of aiding and abetting theft by swindle. Bruce, who was arrested Friday, appeared before a Ramsey County District judge on Monday and remained jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Juan Ramon Bruce and Laura Jean Fero (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Fero, 54, who now lives in Apopka, Fla., and works as dean of nursing and chief academic nurse at AdventHealth University in Orlando, was arrested Wednesday and charged in Ramsey County District Court on Friday. She posted a $75,000 bond and was released from the county jail ahead of a June 7 court hearing.

Court records do not list an attorney for Bruce or Fero.

The complaints allege Fero entered into contracts with Bruce and his healthcare consulting company, JB & Associates LLC., between August 2020 and last August. The work purportedly included outreach, marketing and market and cost analysis for continuing education development and delivery for St. Catherine.

The charges allege Fero “transferred significant funds to Bruce over multiple years while Bruce provided little or no services to the university.”

The charges further allege that Fero and Bruce were “explicitly working together to take money from the university by abusing Fero’s position of trust and authority.”

Monday’s criminal complaint against Bruce says a review of Fero’s university credit card showed she racked up $26,189 in sham charges — airfare, rental cars, hotels and airport parking — while traveling with Bruce.

Fero was St. Catherine’s dean of nursing from June 2019 through Aug. 28, 2023, when she left for AdventHealth University. It was then that St. Catherine officials discovered missing funds and conducted an internal investigation, the charges say. The university reported its findings to St. Paul police in late November.

A St. Paul police review of financial records associated with Bruce’s contracts revealed his company received six payments from St. Catherine’s, totaling $412,644, between Aug. 31, 2020, and Aug. 23, 2023.

The investigations by St. Catherine and police turned up additional emails between Fero and Bruce indicating they coordinated in submitting reports so he would continue to receive university funds, the complaint alleges. The emails consisted of Fero sending information to him to be included in his reports and invoices.

In an interview with police, Fero initially said she met Bruce from a “cold call” to St. Catherine about medical supplies and that they were not in a relationship prior to the university contracting with him. Fero later said she had met him on the dating website

Fero admitted to “editing” documents that Bruce submitted to St. Catherine, the charges say.

Bruce also had a St. Catherine’s email account during the time he was under contract with the university. After Fero left St. Catherine, Bruce sent a message from his university email account to Fero’s personal email attaching a purported final report titled “JB Sept Final Rpt.”

Related Articles

Crime & Public Safety |

Walz names two women to fill vacancies on Ramsey County District Court bench

Crime & Public Safety |

Myon Burrell is arrested for second time since sentence was commuted in 2008 slaying

Crime & Public Safety |

St. Paul man charged with carjacking and shooting motorist in Cub Foods parking lot

Crime & Public Safety |

Former St. Kate’s dean accused of swindling $400K from the school

Crime & Public Safety |

Man shot, wounded during carjacking attempt on St. Paul’s East Side

Need help?

If you need support, please send an email to [email protected]

Thank you.