Goetz pleads not guilty to exploitationA 47-year-old man accused of exploiting his ex-wife by taking $270,000 pled not guilty at the Hettinger County Courthouse on Thursday morning.
MOTT — A 47-year-old man accused of exploiting his ex-wife by taking $270,000 pled not guilty at the Hettinger County Courthouse on Thursday morning.
Greg Goetz’s attorney, Chad McCabe, asked for the charges to be dismissed. However, Judge William Herauf said there is enough evidence to move the case forward.
In August, a court appointed Goetz in charge of his then-wife’s money — about $270,000. He is accused of obtaining or using money held in a conservatorship, according to a Hettinger County criminal complaint.
Psychological issues led to the conservatorship, said Pat Helfrich, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent.
The money came from a wrongful death settlement in Alaska involving the victim’s mother and she would only receive the money if she had someone to monitor it, he said. The victim allegedly said the money was gone two months after it was granted to her.
Goetz and the victim had recently divorced.
“When she left, she found that there was no money left in the account that was supposed to be in conservatorship for her,” Helfrich said. “She said she didn’t actually have control over the money.”
Stephanie Nichols, a 32-year-old Gladstone woman who allegedly had romantic ties to Goetz and the victim, said the victim spent the money.
“She wanted to be able to spend her money the way she wanted to spend her money,” Nichols said. “I never seen her ask Greg to spend any of the money or even tell him where it was going. We would just go out and spend the money.”
Nichols said the victim only wanted a relationship with Goetz so she could get the money.
“She told me that her plan was to marry Greg and then after she got her money and they bought the house in New Leipzig, she planned to divorce him so that she could go back on disability and collect full benefits as a single person,” Nichols said.
Helfrich said the victim told him Goetz would not allow her access to the safe where her money was. Nichols said both the victim and Goetz had keys.
The victim said Goetz was abusive and she feared him, Helfrich said. Nichols said she never observed abuse.
McCabe said Nichols’ testimony proves Goetz’s innocence, but Herauf disagreed.
“Miss Nichols, her testimony is greatly appreciated, but she talks a lot about assuming — ‘I think, I assume,’ and well, that’s not a fact,” Herauf said.
The judge set Goetz’s bond at $50,000, but some of the victim’s money was allegedly used to get him out of jail. It was lowered to a personal recognizance bond at the hearing so the money could be returned to the victim.