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NE: Former prosecutor sentenced for stealing from county

By   /   August 16, 2012  /   9 Comments

By Deena Winter  |  Nebraska Watchdog

The former Keith County chief criminal prosecutor convicted of felony theft will spend 90 days in jail followed by nine months of house arrest, serve 1,200 hours of community service and pay restitution.

State Auditor Mike Foley

John “Blake” Edwards was sentenced Wednesday for stealing funds from the county from 2007 to 2009.

Even though he lost his 2010 re-election bid in Keith County, he found work about 80 miles away in Dundy County as the county attorney, where he continues to work.

Edwards was convicted of a Class 3 Felony for a theft discovered during an annual audit of the county by the Nebraska state auditor’s office for fiscal year 2009-2010. State Auditor Mike Foley told Nebraska Watchdog nearly $19,000 in diversion fees were never remitted to the county treasurer, as required by law.

Foley said Edwards paid himself and his wife, who was his legal assistant, $12,489 without County Board approval, and “donated” $3,726 to a nonprofit club with which he was affiliated from a fund that he kept hidden. Edwards handled the diversion funds through a separate bank account that he didn’t disclose to auditors. After auditors became aware of the account, they demanded all records associated with it, revealing the theft.

Edwards, 50, was sentenced in Keith County District Court. However, he’s still working as a prosecutor. Dundy County hired him in January 2011, after Foley’s audit was out and Edwards was being investigated by the state Highway Patrol.

Edwards didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Dundy County Commissioner Scott Hogeland said Edwards is appealing his conviction, and until that is settled, he still has his law license and will continue as the county prosecutor.

“He’s a good attorney,” Hogeland said, acknowledging that it’s difficult to find a prosecutor in a town of about 1,000 people.

Foley said he’s pleased justice has been served and that Edwards has learned he’s not above the law.

But, he added, “It’s time for the Dundy County Commissioners to wake up and smell the coffee.  Mr. Edwards should not be holding public office anywhere.”

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org

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Deena Winter is a reporter for NebraskaWatchdog.org. Contact her at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org and follow her on Twitter @DeenaNEWatchdog.

  • Biff

    He’s appealing, so technically he’s not guilty — yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.spain.71 Steve Spain

    It would seem prudent to find someone else less vulnerable; to
    prevent convictions from being overturned on appeal. A county prosecutor cannot also be a convicted
    felon. What is Scott Hogeland thinking?

  • Les

    agreed- I thought we were all innocent until proven guilty. He was hired in Dundy while the state’s investigation was on-going and it’s not over yet. Until then, he should be able to work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.spain.71 Steve Spain

    He has been convicted…appeal or not!

  • givemeabreak

    dumbass

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Deena, you’re such a tease! I saw the headline in the email and thought for sure it was going to be about Jon Bruning!

  • Susan Smith

    What’s the big deal….illegal aliens commit crimes every single day they are here in our country – and in our state, not very many of our politicians seem to care about that so why should we care about a citizen breaking the laws? Anyone care to answer this question for me?

  • Pat Boyle

    He’s a prosecutor and now a convicted felon. Steve is absolutely correct that Edwards has no credibilty left and is now a liability to the county government.
    MIke Foley should run for Gov. He’s found more money this year than anyone else I can think of and hasn’t cut services or raised taxes. MIKE, MIKE, MIKE!!

  • Dave Fall

    Hey Republicans you guys miss everything. As a Democrat let me again thank Mike Foley for doing an outstanding job. I have also thanked him in a phone call previously. You guys always miss the good ones..

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