Stacy Phelps testifies in his own defense at trial

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A former South Dakota nonprofit official accused of backdating contracts says he didn’t know his colleague was using another organization’s money for the nonprofit’s payroll before he died in a murder-suicide.

Stacy Phelps, the former CEO of the nonprofit American Indian Institute for Innovation, testified Tuesday at his trial, saying he trusted Scott Westerhuis.

Westerhuis was embezzling money before he shot his family and then himself in September 2015. The deaths spurred a financial investigation that led to charges against Phelps and two others.

Prosecutors allege Phelps backdated the contracts between the Institute and an educational cooperative to avoid an audit.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said during his opening statement that the case was about a “cover up” of the financial dealings of the nonprofit and Phelps’ conduct.

AP-WF-10-09-18 2248GMT