It’s a good thing Marty Jackley lost the gubernatorial primary to Kristi Noem. After fumbling the prosecution of blameless Mid-Central underling Stephanie Hubers in June, Jackley’s recovered from his mensis horribilis and had time to work Dan Guericke over to get him to change his plea in the Mid-Central/GEAR UP corruption trial. The Attorney General’s office says the former Mid-Central Educational Cooperative exec will change his plea this morning at 10 a.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse in Armour.
Crystal ball and past performance says $2,000 fine and two years probation. Any bettors?
Guericke may have chickened out, thinking his case can’t withstand the onslaught of Jackley’s mighty prosecutorial hand, but his co-defendant, Stacy Phelps of Rapid City, isn’t afraid to go to the defendant’s table alone next week:
Phelps’ lawyer, Dana Hanna, said Phelps won’t change his plea.
“Not a chance,” Hanna said. “We’re going to trial. He didn’t commit any crime, and we’re going to prove it” [“Plea Change Hearing Set for Former Education Co-Op Director,” AP via Rapid City Journal, updated 2018.09.28].
Phelps is airing his vigorous defense publicly, maintaining that he stole nothing and acted entirely within the broad authority given him by his lackadaisical overseers. Mid-Central’s former member schools, who quasi-dissolved Mid-Central following the eruption of the GEAR UP scandal and mostly reconstituted themselves into a new cooperative, feel they did something wrong: they’re sending $300,000 in grant money back to Uncle Sam.
If Jackley were still on the campaign trail, he clearly wouldn’t have time to prep for what promises to be a hard-fought case in court next week. So thank you, Kristi Noem and Republican voters, for giving our Attorney General to salvage something, anything, out of this so far sputtering pursuit of justice in the Mid-Central/GEAR UP scandal.