Gear Up Trial: Huber’s Claims No Knowledge of Embezzlement
Testimony was completed and the defense rested on Thursday (June 28), the fourth day of the trial of Stephanie Hubers, a former employee of Scott Westerhuis, and Mid Central Educational Cooperative, including the Gear Up program.
Hubers is charged with multiple counts of theft, stemming from $55,000 in income that she was paid in addition to her normal salary. The state claims the money in question was hush money, to keep the Westerhuis activity of skimming up to 2 millions dollars from being known.
The Westerhuis family died in 2015 when Scott Westerhuis shot his family, started his home on fire and shot himself, according to authorities.
Hubers described a paradox in her relationship with the entire Westerhuis family. While on the stand she confirmed a close friendship with the family, where multiple boating excursions were shared, and a trip to Disney World was taken by both families together. Information about the business was shared with Hubers that other employees were not included in to the point that Hubers felt others were jealous. That close relationship extended past the death of the Westerhuis family, where Hubers became the power of attorney for Scott's mother Pat and assisted in handling the final affairs of the Westerhuis family.
Hubers described the other side of the paradox when it came to money, which was in the various seven organizations directed by Westerhuis. Hubers claimed she did what she was told and didn't ask questions.
Hubers confirmed that she was an employee of Mid Central Educational Cooperative. She also confirmed she billed another Westerhuis organization, The American Indian Institute of Innovation (Aiii), an additional amount monthly as a contract worker, all at the direction of Scott Westerhuis as a raise. The additional Aiii income was for research she was to do on her phone at night while watching TV. According to DCI agents combing through the thousands of documents, no research was discovered to validate the income, which was invoiced monthly as listed as "grant set up fee." Hubers pointed the blame for the generic type of invoicing and even months of double invoicing back on Scott and Nicole Westerhuis, saying they told her to do it. Attorney General Marty Jackley pointed out that the extra payments from Aiii to Hubers stopped at the same time an audit was to begin for the organizations.
Closing arguments are scheduled to start Friday (June 29) at 9:00 AM.