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Emily Welker, Published March 12 2014

Local fundraising company for nonprofits sues former business manager for money lost in embezzlement

FARGO – The former business manager for a local nonprofit fundraising firm and her husband are being sued by the firm in civil court after she pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from the company.

According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cass County District Court by McIntosh Development Systems and its owner, Shannon Schweigert, then-business manager Sheila Horner used company credit cards and wrote checks to herself from the company’s account from January 2011 to February 2013 without permission.

The company, which helps area nonprofits raise money for worthy causes, let Horner go on Feb. 27, the lawsuit says.

Horner was charged in Cass County Court with one count each of felony forgery and theft in June 2013, and pleaded guilty to both in January.

She was sentenced to six months in jail and two years of supervised probation.

Tim O’Keefe, Schweigert’s attorney, said it’s been difficult to determine exactly how much money Horner stole, but he’s confident it’s more than $125,000.

“It’s hard to pin it down because she stole a lot of money, but then put back her own money back in the accounts,” O’Keefe said. “We’re coming close to a final number.”

The judge in the criminal case did not award any restitution to McIntosh Development or Schweigert, O’Keefe said, because the court would have difficulty enforcing repayment of such a large amount of stolen money.

“The unfortunate thing is, once it’s gone, it’s hard to recover what’s been taken,” he said.

The lawsuit also says that Brian Horner, Sheila Horner’s husband at the time of the thefts, knew or should have known of his wife’s illegal conduct.

Brian Horner filed for divorce from Sheila Horner in April 2013, according to court records. That case is set to go to trial April 22.

Neither of the Horners could be reached for comment.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541