More theft charges filed against Nebraska guardian

GERING, Neb. (AP) _ More charges have been filed against a 70-year-old Nebraska Panhandle woman accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from state wards.

Judy Widener, of Bayard, has been charged with nine felony and two misdemeanor counts of theft. She originally was arrested on one count of theft. She’s pleaded not guilty. Her trial is scheduled for early June.

Widener was arrested in November after a Nebraska state auditor’s report said she took for her personal use more than $35,000 intended for court-appointed wards.

State Auditor Mike Foley says Widener used a complex array of credit cards and dozens of bank accounts containing more than $600,000 as part of her scheme.

Court records do not list an attorney for Widener. A public number listed for her residence is not in service.

The auditor’s report said Widener had served as a guardian, conservator or both for more than 600 people who are aged, blind or otherwise disabled.

At a preliminary hearing for Widener, Craig Kubicek of the state auditor’s office said Widener had accepted money on behalf of dead state wards and double-billed for services. He said she used the money to make payments on her personal credit cards and on phone and television services.

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