Phelps denies fearing audit at contract backdating trial

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A former South Dakota nonprofit executive accused of trying to avoid a potential state audit says he didn’t intend to cheat or deceive anyone when he backdated contracts in 2015.

Stacy Phelps testified Wednesday at his trial, saying he backdated the documents in August 2015 because his colleague, Scott Westerhuis, said he couldn’t find the originals.

Prosecutors allege Phelps backdated the contracts between the nonprofit and an educational cooperative to avoid an audit. But Phelps denied fearing an audit of the nonprofit, saying he believed the contracts were genuine.

Westerhuis was embezzling money before he shot his family and then himself in September 2015. Phelps says he didn’t know about the theft when he signed the contracts.

The deaths spurred a financial investigation that led to charges in 2016 against Phelps and two others.

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