Another GEAR UP trial is underway in Sioux Falls. And two people at the center of the million-dollar investigation will take the stand.
Dan Guericke is expected to testify Thursday afternoon. He was the former Mid-Central Educational Cooperative Director. Last week, he pleaded guilty to one count of falsification of evidence.
Stacy Phelps is also expected to take the stand. He’s on trial for allegedly backdating contracts to avoid a state audit.
During opening statements, Attorney General Marty Jackley told jurors he has evidence to prove that this case is a cover up. He says Scott Westerhuis researched ways to avoid an audit and then wrote up new contracts and Phelps and Guericke backdated them.
Phelps’ attorney says this case is about an innocent man who was played by a criminal.
“Scott Westerhuis played the world, he lied to the world and he conned the world,” Dana Hanna said.
The trial comes more than three years after Scott Westerhuis shot his wife and children, started their home on fire and killed himself. Westerhuis was the business manager for Mid-Central Education Cooperative in Platte. Authorities say he embezzled more than a million dollars in federal grant money.
KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke has been following this story from the very beginning. She’s in the courtroom for Thursday’s proceedings. She’ll have all the details later in the day on KELOLAND News.