Teacher charged with embezzlement offered chance to avoid prosecution

May 3, 2020 By Clair McFarland, Staff Writer

A special education teacher accused of stealing more than $32,000 from the Eastern Shoshone Tribe will avoid prosecution if she pays the money back.

Wyoming Indian Elementary School teacher Lindsey Van Dusen was indicted in January for embezzlement, after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security accused her of obtaining eight checks from the Eastern Shoshone general fund, each in the amount of $4,060, under "false pretenses."

Investigators said she deposited them in a personal account.

The deposits are listed in eight installments from Aug. 8 to Oct. 2, 2017.

The federal crime deemed "theft from Indian tribal organization" is punishable by up to five years in prison, per charge, plus $250,000 in fines.

But Assistant United States Attorney for the district of Wyoming Eric Heimann saw Van Dusen as a candidate for "diversion" - a probationary period with behavioral stipulations lasting six months that, if fulfilled, would deflect prosecution by the federal attorneys.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Scott Skavdahl agreed.

In the diversion agreement signed April 24, Van Dusen agreed to pay back $32,480 within 30 days, and stay out of trouble, work full time, and stay in close and transparent contact with a pretrial services officer until Oct. 20.

If the court is satisfied with her actions on that date, prosecutors will ask to have the indictment dismissed.

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