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Former UND employee facing felony theft charges

A former UND secretary is accused of falsifying documents resulting in the theft of at least $57,000 from the university over the course of nearly three years.

A former UND secretary is accused of falsifying documents resulting in the theft of at least $57,000 from the university over the course of nearly three years.

Lori Ann Pesch, 53, of East Grand Forks is facing felony theft charges stemming from incidents spanning from March 1, 2012, to Sept. 15, 2014.

Her attorney Alex Reichert told the Herald his client made a bad decision during a hard time in her life following the 2009 death of her husband Timothy.

"She is a wonderful, hard working person that made a mistake, that's really it," Reichert said Wednesday. "It's a tragic story."

Pesch allegedly falsified approximately 31 travel vouchers submitted for 152 trips for which she was reimbursed about $47,500, according to a report filed by the University Police Department.


Pesch also submitted 13 falsified overtime vouchers for 397 hours totaling nearly $10,210 in wages in 2012.

An audit revealed Pesch received payment for fictitious trips and overtime by forging her supervisor's signature.

Pesch has been charged with a class B felony, which a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both may be imposed.

Reichert said he believes Pesch will plead guilty to the charge.

"That's been our intent all along is for her to take responsibility," he said, adding he hopes to work out a plea agreement.

Pesch's preliminary hearing and arraignment set for last Friday in Grand Forks were canceled. Another hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 5.

Job reviews

During the time of the thefts, Pesch worked as a secretary for the university's teaching and learning department's special education program.


The department is part of UND's College of Education & Human Development. UND spokesman Peter Johnson said the university typically doesn't comment on matters moving through litigation.

According to documents obtained by the Herald through an open records request, Pesch was hired as an administrative secretary in 2001.

She was placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 22, 2014, and charges were filed against her March 9, 2015.

Pesch's most recent job performance evaluation shows high marks, with the review noting she exceeded standards for job responsibilities and tasks.

"It would be difficult to run this program without her," read one comment. "We're not going to try!'

Her review for 2012 was equally as positive, a trend that continues back to her first annual review in 2002.

Reichert said his client and her supervisors tried numerous times to get her a raise or new job title that would result in an increase in pay, but they weren't approved.

UND records obtained by the Herald show eight salary adjustment requests were filed on behalf of Pesch from 2002 to 2012.


All requests were recommended for approval by university human resources, but notes on the forms indicate they needed approval from various administrators including the university's president or provost depending on the increase amount.

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