Former USD professor pleads not guilty to embezzlement By David Lias
Plain Talk A former assistant professor in the USD School of Education will go to trial in the Clay County Courthouse on embezzlement charges. Karen Kostel, 52, of Yankton, entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of grand theft by embezzlement of property received in trust during a court appearance Jan. 23. Circuit Court Judge Art Rusch issued a warrant for Kostel's arrest after her indictment on the charges on Dec. 4, 2008. On that day, a Clay County grand jury charged that Kostel embezzled funds received in trust during the months of September and October of 2008, and made unauthorized purchases on the University of South Dakota SDEA Student Association checking account in an amount over $1,000. SDEA is an organization on the USD campus that provides insurance to students who student teach, among other functions. Embezzling more than $1,000 is a Class 4 felony which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. During Kostel's Jan. 23 court appearance, she and her attorney, Daniel Fox of Yankton, made a written request for discovery. That request contains these items: . any relevant written or recorded statements made by the defendant or their copies in the possession of state, or by the exercise of due diligence by the prosecuting attorney. . The substance of any oral statement which the prosecuting attorney intends to offer in evidence at Kostel's trial, made by the defendant before or after her arrest in response to interrogation by any person known to the defendant to be an employee of a law enforcement agency. . Any recorded statement of the defendant before a grand jury which relates to the offense with which she is charged. . Any prior criminal record of the defendant known by the state. . Any books, paper, documents, tangible objects, buildings or places that are within the possession, custody or control of the prosecuting attorney, and which are material to the preparation of the defendant or intended for use by the prosecuting attorney as evidence in the trial or which were obtained from or belonged to the defendant. . Any results or reports of physical or mental examinations, and of scientific tests and experiments that are within the possession or control of the prosecuting attorney, or the existence of which may become known by the exercise of due diligence by the prosecuting attorney and which are material to the preparation of the defense or intended for use by the prosecuting attorney as evidence in the trial. Kostel is free after posting bond. Rusch has ordered that all pre-trial motions be filed by April 17. Her trial is scheduled to begin in Vermillion on May 11, with State's Attorney Teddi Gertsma prosecuting. Kostel's employment at USD ended Dec. 8.