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Kimberly Marie Dysthe Goeden, 47, former bookkeeper of the Ashby, Minn., Farmers Elevator Cooperative, has been charged with felony swindle while she worked for the co-op. Here she is shown in October 2018 with Matt Brandenburger, director of operations for Wheaton-Dumont Cooperative Elevator, that took over running the defunct co-op after the manager was found to have stolen $5 million. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

Charges filed against former bookkeeper at Ashby co-op that was victimized by manager

ELBOW LAKE, Minn. — The former bookkeeper for the insolvent Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator has been charged with felony of theft by swindle in Grant County District Court at Elbow Lake.

Kimberly Marie Dysthe Goeden, 47, of Fergus Falls, Minn., was the grain co-op's bookkeeper during the time that general manager Jerome "Jerry" Hennessey embezzled $5 million, causing the co-op to go insolvent in September 2018.

Prosecutors allege Dysthe Goeden over a four-year period wrote more than $88,000 in unauthorized co-op checks for her own benefit. If convicted, the maximum sentence could be up to 20 years in prison, plus of a $100,000 fine, according to prosecutor Justin Anderson.

Prosecutors filed the charges filed Dec. 26. Dysthe Goeden was served on Monday, Dec. 30.

A first appearance has been set Jan. 6, before Eighth District Judge Amy Doll. She is represented by Kent Marshall of Barrett, Minn. Marshall was not immediately available to comment.

According to the complaint, the Grant County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 13, 2018, contacted the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and other law enforcement agencies for assistance in the multi-million-dollar embezzlement investigation involving Hennessey, 56, who had used the co-op's funds over 10 years for his own use, including for big-game hunting worldwide and taxidermy.

Hennessey was sentenced in June to 8.5 years in federal prison for his misdeeds, and is in federal prison in Butner, N.C.

As Hennessey's scandal unfolded, Dysthe Goeden was hired as a bookkeeper by Ashby Grain, operated by the Wheaton-Dumont Cooperative Elevator, which has leased the Ashby facilities month-to-month, and has a deal to buy the business. After a transition period, she "voluntarily left" that position in early 2019, initially for a position in another agricultural business, said Matt Brandenburger, operations manager for the Wheaton-Dumont Cooperative Elevator.

According to the criminal complaint, "during the course of the (Hennessey) investigation, it was discovered that there were a number of records" relating to Dysthe Goeden.

"It was found that Dysthe Goeden issued many checks," specifically between Dec. 30, 2014, and Aug. 28, 2018, "that were not attributable to the daily workings of the business but that were signed by her on behalf of the Ashby Farmers Coop Elevator," court records said.

"There were multiple transactions that were made for the personal benefit of Dysthe Goeden and not for the business, even though coding in the checkbook, such as 'soybeans' or 'feed' suggested that the checks were for business purposes."

Hennessey had similarly mislabeled payments for his own purposes, describing them as commodities.

Improper transactions to the bookkeeper totaled $88,033.84. Within that, Dysthe Goeden issued 22 checks for "cash," for a total of $44,522. She also "issued and endorsed 65 other checks totaling $40,511.84 for her own use and benefit and without authority."