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Stephanie Wells preliminary hearing

Stephanie Wells attends her preliminary hearing June 20 at the Gooding County Courthouse in Gooding. Wells is accused of embezzling $700,000 from a former employer.

GOODING — A trial date has been set for a former dairy accountant charged with multiple counts of grand theft.

Stephanie Wells, 34, of Jerome appeared Tuesday morning for a district court arraignment at the Gooding County Courthouse before Fifth District Judge Rosemary Emory.

After informing Wells of her rights, Emory presented her and defense attorney F. Matthew Stoppello the options for pleading to the charges.

When asked for a plea, Stoppello told Emory that Wells pleaded not guilty.

“We request a jury trial,” he added.

Wells was hired by Box Canyon Dairy as chief financial officer and internal accountant in 2012. She voluntarily resigned in January 2019 as the dairy was closing its operation. Wells is charged in Gooding County with 19 counts of grand theft, accused of embezzling more than $700,000 by writing checks to pay credit card bills and falsifying payments for a loan she had with the company.

Emory consulted Gooding County Prosecutor Matthew Pember about the amount of time necessary for Wells’ trial.

Pember responded that the state could present its evidence in a day or day and a half.

“I think we need three, Your Honor,” Stoppello said.

The three-day trial has been set for Oct. 16, with a pretrial hearing scheduled for Oct. 8.

If convicted, the maximum penalty Wells could face on each count is 14 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.

Wells and her husband, Dustin Wells, are being sued in Jerome County civil court by Box Canyon Dairy in an attempt to recover the loss. Dustin Wells filed a bankruptcy petition on May 17.

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