TRIPP -- A woman who previously served as Tripp's city finance officer has been charged with embezzling more than $400,000 from the city.
The complaint brought against 44-year-old Jennifer Friederich on Sept. 3 and filed on Sept. 5 alleges that between Jan. 1, 2011, and Nov. 20, 2018, Friederich appropriated money entrusted to her, forged documents for personal monetary gain and altered or destroyed public records.
Hutchinson County State's Attorney Glenn Roth told The Daily Republic on Monday that the investigation began late last year when a routine audit was done. Roth said Friederich is accused of altering bank statements and other internal documents.
Friederich is alleged to have misappropriated between $100,000 and $500,000 over the approximately seven-year period. While the exact amount in question has not been released, Roth said it exceeds $400,000.
The city of Tripp's revenue budgets for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 totaled $729,000 and $742,000, respectively, meaning the amount Friederich is accused of embezzling between 2011 and 2018 is equivalent to between 54 and 68 percent of the city's total revenue for one fiscal year.
Scott Swier, who is representing the city in the case, told The Daily Republic via email on Monday that the city does not yet know exactly how much money Friederich is alleged to have misappropriated.
Friederich is charged with embezzlement of property received in trust, a Class 3 felony, as well as forgery and destruction or impairment of public records, both of which are Class 5 felonies. If convicted on all charges, she could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
According to an affidavit filed by Tyler Heine, an agent with the South Dakota Attorney General's Office's Division of Criminal Investigation, investigation into Friederich began late last year when Roth contacted DCI about information found during a routine audit the South Dakota Department of Legislative Audit had conducted on the city of Tripp. Heine's investigation reportedly led to charges being brought against Friederich.
Friederich is the second city finance officer in the area to be charged with embezzlement this year. In May, 36-year-old Ashlea Pruss was alleged to have embezzled between $5,000 and $100,000 in fall 2018 while working as Springfield's city finance officer. Pruss' case is pending in Bon Homme County, and a change of plea hearing is scheduled for next month.
Friederich is scheduled to appear in court next Monday.