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Former Ellsworth woman sentenced after committing fraud at employer’s expense


WORTHINGTON — An Iowa woman was sentenced Tuesday in Nobles County District Court after committing financial fraud, including a down payment on a vehicle, at her former employer’s expense.

Debra Schukenecht, 33, of Sherburn, Iowa and formerly of Ellsworth, received a 15- and 13-month stay of execution to be stayed for five years after pleading guilty to check forgery and storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a child or vulnerable adult, both felonies. She will concurrently serve 60 days in the Nobles County Jail on both charges. She was also ordered to pay approximately $11,000 in restitution to Loosbrock Digging.

Two other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Before Tuesday’s sentencing, Fifth Judicial District Judge Gordon Moore called the behavior Schukenecht demonstrated in this case and her pre-sentence investigation egregious.

“It’s beyond the pale,” he said. “It’s some of the most dishonest behavior I’ve ever seen in the court system.”

The charges stem from December 2016. Approximately three weeks after Schukenecht began a secretarial job at Loosbrock Digging in Lismore, she allegedly took a day off to take her child to the doctor in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Instead, she admitted to going Christmas shopping and allegedly made $521 in personal charges to a company credit card, including an additional $251 attempted charges.

According to the criminal complaint, Schukenecht also cashed a $1,093 check in her name at the Adrian State Bank. The Loosbrocks said Schukenecht’s paycheck was to be received by direct deposit.

Schukenecht also applied for a Scheels Visa card under one of the Loosbrocks’ names and added hers as a second name to the card, the complaint also details. The card was found during a warrant search of her home and collected as evidence.

During the search, law enforcement also found a substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.

After the initial criminal complaint was filed, it was later discovered that a different company credit card, which the owners said had been inactive since 2013, was reactivated and used to make a $2,000 down payment on a 2003 Cadillac CTS.

The complaint details that Schukenecht made the $6,219 car purchase over the phone with the car dealership and had it delivered to her home. The vehicle was found in her garage.  

Moore said Schukenecht’s purchase of the car was what took the cake.

“Who does this?” he asked her.

Schukenecht said she attributes her behavior to drug use, adding that she is looking into mental health and treatment support.

Moore said he did not believe making Schukenecht sit endlessly in jail would be of benefit, as it would not allow her to earn restitution to pay the victims and support her three kids.

“You need to find the underlying issue that may not have been addressed,” he said. “You’ve got to stop making excuses and do something about it.”