Reno man's lawyer blames bookkeeper in fraud case

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Updated: 3/19 1:44 pm

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Lawyers for a Reno businessman accused of bilking the government out of $200,000 intended for nonprofits say his bookkeeper is the real culprit who embezzled the money then agreed to testify against her boss after prosecutors promised her immunity.

Government lawyers say Michael Stickler went on a $13,000 Hawaiian vacation with some of the faith-based grants he allegedly stole from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But public defender Michael Kennedy told jurors in federal court in Reno Wednesday that his bookkeeper, Kathryn Petri, was the only one who had direct access to the funds. He says she made more than 50 wire transfers of money during a seven-month period beginning in the fall of 2007 to hide the fact she was stealing from Stickler's Faith Based Solutions.

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