ELBOW LAKE, Minn. — The former bookkeeper of the Minnesota grain elevator that was defrauded by its manager has been charged with felony theft by swindle in Grant County District Court at Elbow Lake.

Kimberly Marie Dysthe Goeden, 47, of Fergus Falls, was the bookkeeper for Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator 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. Dysthe Goeden is represented by Kent Marshall of Barrett. 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,” the complaint 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, records show. 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.”