ELBOW LAKE, Minn. — The former bookkeeper for the Ashby Farmers Co-Operative Elevator on Aug. 3 pleaded guilty to filing a false tax statement.

Grant County prosecutors initially charged Kimberly Marie Dysthe Goeden, 47, of Fergus Falls, Minn. with one count of theft by swindle, a felony with a maximum of 20 years in prison plus a $100,000 fine.

Grant County prosecutor Justin R. Anderson amended the charge to “filing a false (tax) return.” The minimum sentence for that felony count is 12 months and a day, or over a $3,000 fine. Eighth District Judge Amy J. Doll accepted Goeden's plea and scheduled sentencing for a video hearing on Sept. 21, 2020, at 10:15 a.m.

Goeden appeared in a video from what appeared to be her home. She acknowledged she had received numerous payments from the co-op apart from her salary, from Dec. 30, 2014, to approximately Aug. 28, 2018, but said they were “authorized” by her “employer.” The amount in earlier documents was listed as $88,000.

Her attorney, Kent D. Marshal of Barrett, Minn., noted Goeden was working for a boss — Jerry Hennessey — who was convicted of “embezzling a ton of money” out of the co-op.

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Marshal underlined that Goeden had “cooperated with law enforcement from the very beginning" and she was kept on for some time because “you know how to get to the books, knew how to get them the correct information.” Marshal indicated that Erik Ahlgren — a Fergus Falls attorney serving as the appointee for the benefit of creditors — is particularly interested that Goeden continue to cooperate in his efforts to recoup as much possible for the “direct victims.”

Goeden acknowledged some of the information she’d helped discover about Hennessey revealed she’d been paid in addition to her payroll checks.

Marshal indicated that he and Goeden have been able to acknowledge to the state that those checks “were in fact authorized by your employer, that they weren’t fraudulent, they were methods of paying you for things you had put on your personal charge card and for additional time you put in that you weren’t otherwise compensated for, correct?”

“That is correct,” Goeden said. In the plea, Goeden only admitted she had failed to include $6,900 of the payments on her personal tax returns.

Hennessey admitted stealing $5.4 million from the cooperative, which has since been sold. He is serving an 8.5 year sentence in federal prision in North Carolina.