AP NEWS

The Latest: Stacy Phelps’ trial opens with differing claims

October 4, 2018

FILE - In this March 22, 2016, file photo, Stacy Phelps leaves his initial appearance at the Charles Mix County Courthouse in Lake Andes, S.D. The former South Dakota nonprofit official accused of trying to avoid a potential state audit is heading to trial, capping an explosive multi-year case sparked after the nonprofit's financial officer killed his family and then himself. Jury selection begins Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in Sioux Falls the former American Indian Institute for Innovation CEO, who prosecutors allege signed backdated contracts with a Platte-based educational cooperative to avoid a potential audit of the nonprofit Institute and scrutiny over his spending at the organization. (AP Photo/James Nord, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Latest on the trial of Stacy Phelps (all times local):

12 p.m.

The lawyer for a former South Dakota nonprofit official accused of trying to avoid a potential state audit says his client is accused of four crimes he didn’t commit.

Opening statements were Thursday in the trial of Stacy Phelps. Prosecutors have accused Phelps of backdating contracts with an educational cooperative to avoid a potential audit of the nonprofit.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says the case is about a “cover up” of the financial dealings of the nonprofit and Phelps’ conduct. Defense attorney Dana Hanna says Phelps didn’t intend to deceive anyone when he backdated the contracts.

Phelps was charged after authorities launched a financial investigation because the nonprofit’s chief financial officer, Scott Westerhuis, killed his family and then himself following alleged embezzlement. Hanna says Phelps didn’t know Westerhuis was stealing until “that man slaughtered his family.”

Phelps has pleaded not guilty to two counts of falsifying evidence and two counts of conspiring to offer forged or fraudulent evidence.

___

9:41 a.m.

Jurors are set to begin hearing the case of a former South Dakota nonprofit official accused of trying to avoid a potential state audit.

Opening statements were expected Thursday in the trial of Stacy Phelps. Prosecutors accuse Phelps of backdating contracts with an educational cooperative to avoid a potential audit of the nonprofit and conceal his alleged inappropriate spending.

Phelps’ defense attorney has said the evidence will prove Phelps didn’t defraud or cheat anyone.

The educational cooperative’s director was to stand trial with Phelps, but instead took a plea deal last week.

Phelps is the second and final defendant to head to trial in what prosecutors have dubbed the Gear Up case. The trial comes more than three years after the nonprofit’s chief financial officer, Scott Westerhuis, killed his family and then himself.

AP RADIO
Update hourly