Nonprofit Official Goes To Trial In Contract Backdating Case

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A former South Dakota nonprofit official accused of trying to avoid a potential audit is heading to trial, capping a multi-year case sparked after the nonprofit’s financial officer died in a 2015 murder-suicide.

Jury selection begins Wednesday for 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 at the organization.

Phelps is the second and final defendant to head to trial in what prosecutors have dubbed the GEAR UP case. Phelps’ defense attorney, Dana Hanna, says the evidence will prove Phelps didn’t defraud or cheat anyone.

The trial comes more than three years after the nonprofit’s chief financial officer, Scott Westerhuis, shot his wife and family and then killed himself in September 2015.

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