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GoFundMe theft trial dates set in Koochiching County

This file photo show a GoFundMe account Retina LaValla set up for the families of three boaters who died in a boating accident on Lake of the Woods. The account has been closed.

BAUDETTE, Minn.—Trial dates have been set for a Baudette woman accused of stealing from a GoFundMe account she set up for three men who died in a boating accident on Lake of the Woods.

Retina LaValla Retina Reyellen LaValla, 28, was charged in February in Lake of the Woods District Court with two counts of felony theft after the Sheriff's Department said she used some of the donated money to pay for various bills and groceries.

LaValla's lawyer, Alan Bradley Fish, argued LaValla's trial should be moved to another county to ensure she has "an unbiased jury pool," and Judge Donna Dixon approved.

LaValla is scheduled for a three-day trial from Sept. 28-30 in Koochiching County. Judge Dixon will preside over the case.

In three months, almost 400 people donated more than $27,000 to the GoFundMe page after Justin Haugtvedt, 22, Cody Ostendorf, 24, and Keith Ayers, 28, went missing in a boating accident Oct. 3 on Lake of the Woods.

Becky Jacobs

Becky Jacobs is the crime and courts reporter for the Herald.

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