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The Latest: Former education co-op director takes plea deal

September 28, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Latest on Former Mid-Central Educational Cooperative Director Dan Guericke’s change of plea hearing (all times local):

10:55 a.m.

A South Dakota man accused of helping in an embezzlement scheme has pleaded guilty to one charge under an agreement with prosecutors days before he was to go to trial.

Former Mid-Central Educational Cooperative Director Dan Guericke pleaded guilty Friday to one felony count of falsifying evidence. He had been charged in 2016 with six felony counts alleging he falsified evidence and conspired to offer forged or fraudulent evidence.

Sentencing is Nov. 26. Guericke and consultant Stacy Phelps had been scheduled to go to trial next week.

Prosecutors accused Guericke and Phelps of backdating contracts between Mid-Central and a nonprofit to avoid a potential audit. Phelps’ defense attorney has said Phelps “didn’t commit any crime” and will go to trial.

They were charged after a financial investigation launched because Mid-Central business manager Scott Westerhuis killed his family and himself in 2015. Authorities believe Westerhuis stole more than $1 million before the deaths.

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6:51 a.m.

A man accused in an embezzlement scheme is expected to change his plea in Douglas County.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says a change of plea hearing for Mid Central Educational Cooperative’s former director, Dan Guericke, will take place on Friday. He’s accused of altering contracts to avoid an audit into how GEAR UP money was spent. Guericke previously pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy.

Mid Central Business Manager Scott Westerhuis embezzled more than $1 million from the educational co-op before killing himself and his family.

KELO-TV reports Jackley won’t say if the state has struck a plea deal with Guericke.

July selection in co-defendant Stacy Phelps’ trial is scheduled to begin next week.

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