South Dakota jury clears ex-nonprofit CEO in 'Gear Up' case

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota jury cleared a former nonprofit executive accused of backdating contracts to try to avoid a potential audit in a case sparked after the organization's financial officer killed his family and himself.

Stacy Phelps, former CEO of the American Indian Institute for Innovation, was found not guilty late Thursday night of falsifying evidence and conspiring to offer forged or fraudulent evidence.

Phelps' attorney, Dana Hanna, says the defense always maintained his innocence and proved it.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says he appreciates the jury's service and respects the verdict.

Phelps was the second and final person to face trial in a sprawling case known as Gear Up. The first hint of major issues came after the nonprofit's chief financial officer, Scott Westerhuis, shot his wife, his four children and then himself in 2015.

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