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      Bayard Woman Accused of Embezzling Thousands from State Wards Takes Plea Deal

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      A 71-year-old Bayard woman accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from state wards has reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded no contest to theft.

      Judith Widener entered her plea on Wednesday. She has agreed to pay more than $25,000 in restitution for thefts that occurred from 2011-2013 while she was serving as the director of Safe Haven in Gering.

      Widener was accused of taking funds meant for wards of the court and embezzling them into her own business accounts to pay for personal costs. An audit by the State Auditor's Office revealed that Widener had been made guardian for over 600 people across the state.

      The nine charges she was facing were re-filed into a single aggregate charge of theft as part of the deal with prosecutors.

      Sentencing has been set for October.


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