Kuhl pleads not guilty

Judge declines to alter terms of bond

 

September 2, 2021



At an arraignment hearing last week, County Treasurer Mary Kuhl was asked how she intends to plead to the felony and three misdemeanors she has been charged with.

“Not guilty, your honor,” she repeated four times.

This plea gives Kuhl the right to a public jury trial, said Judge Stuart S. Healy III, who presided over the hearing and said he will now enter a criminal case management order.

The date of Kuhl’s trial was not set, though the judge stated that the order kickstarts a number of deadlines on both sides and a date for her pre-trial conference will be scheduled shortly. At that time, Judge Healy said, Kuhl will be expected to indicate whether she intends to move forward to trial.

Judge Healy also advised Kuhl that conviction even on a misdemeanor could result in her removal from office.

Special Prosecutor Greg Steward, who is representing the county in this case, asked the court to reconsider the terms of Kuhl’s bond. Before the case was bound over to District Court, Judge Wendy Bartlett of the Circuit Court of the 6th Judicial District determined that Kuhl should be allowed to return to the office.


Steward reiterated his objection to this decision and listed several reasons for his concern. The first was that, since that date, the Attorney General’s Office has filed a civil case against Kuhl seeking her removal from office.

This had not yet been filed at Kuhl’s previous hearing, Steward said, and through this “expedited process,” Governor Mark Gordon has the authority to order her suspension from office.

Also on Steward’s list of concerns was the “tense working environment in the office at this time, as it is anticipated that some of the employees will be called as witnesses.”

Steward also told the court that law enforcement has advised that Kuhl has been seen removing “two reams” of photocopied papers from her office since her return.

Kuhl’s attorney, Jason Tangeman, once again protested.

“There’s really no reason why she should not be allowed to go back to work,” he said. He stated that Kuhl is presumed innocent and has not violated the terms of her bond.

“She just wants to go and do her job,” he said.

Judge Healy commented that he understands Steward’s concerns and the tensions within the office. However, it is usual practice for the court to put its faith in Circuit Court as having properly considered the facts.

Additionally, said the judge, if there is an expedited removal process now in progress, it would seem that Kuhl’s presence in the Treasurer’s Office can be more properly sorted through by the Attorney General’s Office and Kuhl’s legal representation.


At Tangeman’s request, Judge Healy also agreed to modify Kuhl’s bond to allow her to travel to South Dakota to see her medical provider and daughter.

“Those are the only exceptions to your bond,” he stressed.

Kuhl is facing four criminal charges: a felony count of unauthorized use of monies and three misdemeanors, including one count of official misconduct and two of issuing false certificate.

 
 

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