Hubers Reacts to Being Found Not Guilty in Gear Up Scandal
On Friday (June 29) at 5:25 PM, Jurors gathered for a final time collectively to announce their decision after a week long trial. The courtroom was different this time, as not even hushed tones filled the vacuum of silence. The jurors, who had been deliberating for about five hours filed in the single doorway and found their seats, some looking emotionally drained. They had come to a unanimous decision, not guilty on all counts of theft or accepting stolen property. Just minutes after watching Hubers reaction, I reported in live on KSFY TV.
Earlier in the day, closing arguments depicted two tales of the same woman, Stephanie Hubers, who is charged with multiple counts of grand theft, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
The jury was deliberating regarding the guilt or innocence of the former business manager, who worked for Scott Westerhuis, Mid Central Educational Cooperative and the Gear Up program.
Charges against Hubers were based on $55,000 in additional income to her normal salary.
Attorney General Marty Jackley grabbed the wooden podium and placed it squarely in front of the jury, telling each member that Hubers "actively participated in theft for personal gain." He used Hubers words taken from an undercover recording with DCI agents where she said that the activities of Scott Westerhuis were a "big flash conflict of interest."
In her defense, Attorney Clint Sargent paced in front the the rows of jurors, depicting a trusting employee who was directed to submit monthly invoices for an additional $10,000 annually, calling it a grant set up fee. Sargent reminded jurors to base their decision on the law and evidence provided. "If you think she should have known better, that is not the law." He claimed back in 2009, Hubers did not have the full knowledge of the Gear Up scandal details.
The one item both the prosecution and defense agree on is the deception and financial theft by Scott and Nicole Westerhuis, skimming up to two million dollars from accounts that were federally funded to assist Native American students better their education.
The Westerhuis family died in 2015 when police say Scott Westerhuis shot his family, started his home on fire and shot himself.
Sargent said of Westerhuis, "He was a control freak that murdered his wife and kids. He was a destroyer of lives. He did not have accomplices, he had victims, especially those closest to him." He reminded the jury that Westerhuis and Hubers are two different people. "Guilt by association is wrong. We certainly don't do that in our courts."
Jackleys rebuttal included the reminder that Hubers, for over three years, sent 38 invoices and was paid for work she admitted she did not do, several times double invoicing and receiving double payments for the same month. Jackley said each billing and cashing of checks was an act of deception and theft.