Woman pleads guilty in Amdahl caseA Goodhue woman accused of stealing thousands from a Red Wing car dealership pleaded guilty Friday to forgery.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
A Goodhue woman accused of stealing thousands from a Red Wing car dealership pleaded guilty Friday to forgery.
First District Court Judge Thomas Bibus accepted a plea agreement that calls for Terri Ann Knudsen to spend up to three years on probation, pay a $500 fine and work 20 days on a Sentencing to Service crew. Two other charges - theft by swindle and another forgery count - were dismissed under the deal.
"This was a crime, and a serious one at that," Bibus told Knudsen at sentencing.
Prosecutors had alleged Knudsen was behind a complex system of financial transactions while she was Red Wing Chevrolet's bookkeeper from 1997 to 2007.
Investigators discovered more than $100,000 in missing funds through forged checks and entries spanning 2001 to 2007. However, experts could not prove Knudsen was criminally liable, Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Carol Lee said at the hearing.
Knudsen was not made to pay any restitution through the courts. In January 2008, she signed a promissory note that acknowledged the transactions as illegal and agreed to repay nearly $30,000 over time, according to a criminal complaint.
At Friday's hearing, Knudsen admitted to making false statements on the company's books, falsifying documents and acknowledged the dealership was harmed financially by her actions.
"Yes, I understand," she testified.
Two dealership officials attempted to solidify that understanding during victim impact statements.
In a letter read by Lee, dealership owner Tim Amdahl called Knudsen "an expert thief" who upended relations at the dealership.
"You ruined a friendly, collegial" work environment, Amdahl stated in the letter, which described Knudsen's offense as "a heinous and selfish act."
Current bookkeeper Pat Wondrasch also addressed the court, giving an impact statement that lamented how Knudsen "appeared to be someone we could trust."
The episode squashed that sentiment, she said.
"I've learned in business that you should never trust anyone," Wondrasch said.
Knudsen addressed the court briefly.
"I am truly sorry and I really don't have anything else to say," she said.
Bibus said he suspects such crimes are the result of "a sense of entitlement and avoidance of reality."
"I do urge you to ... come to grips with the reality of this," he said.
Knudsen's probationary terms include a provision prohibiting her from working a job where she would have control over an employer's finances.