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Plea deal in the works in First Responders embezzlement case; will include restitution

Valerie Ione Kimball

A Sept. 13 plea hearing has been set in the case of a Park Rapids woman charged with embezzling $37,000 from Hubbard First Responders.

"I'm comfortable in saying this matter won't go to trial," said public defender Jennifer Nelson, referring to her client Valerie Ione Kimball, 44, who faces two felony charges in connection with the missing funds.

Nelson and Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said the case would be resolved in a plea deal involving restitution once attorneys have had time to go through the voluminous financial records to determine how much is missing.

A financial audit was begun in February when some members of the emergency responders discovered financial irregularities.

The criminal complaint states the audit revealed, from April 2007 to December 2009, numerous unauthorized checks, credit purchases and payments were allegedly made to Kimball or her personal accounts while she was the group's treasurer.

In all, the complaint states, 70 unauthorized purchases, 18 unauthorized checks and 25 payments have come under scrutiny. The total amount believed to be missing is $37,841.56.

The First Responders is a non-profit agency funded through state public health grants, so the missing funds are considered public monies.

Kimball faces one count of theft and one count of Embezzlement of Public Funds. Each is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine upon conviction.

First Responders are volunteers who respond to emergencies such as car accidents, fires and medical calls. Their equipment is paid for by grants and sometimes, township funds.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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