The two were arrested more than a year ago after a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on May 17, 2011, charging Lauritz Mills with theft of federal program funds while she worked at the bureau, according to a joint statement issued by U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe and Rhonda Diffenbach, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Lauritz and Frank Mills additionally had been charged with two counts of filing false income tax returns for 2004 and 2005.
The indictment had said that Lauritz Mills embezzled or stole benefits in excess of $10,000 from the HRSA State Planning Grant Fund and the Fiscal Year 2006 Economic Development Planning Grant Fund during a one-year period ending Dec. 31, 2006.
The indictment also charged that Lauritz and Frank Mills willfully filed a false income tax form claiming income of $77,267 in 2004 and that they willfully filed a false tax return claiming income of $101,348 in 2005.
Frank and Lauritz Mills had pleaded not guilty to all charges and requested a jury trial, which began Monday before District Judge Curtis Gomez.
In March, Gomez had granted the prosecution’s motion asking to dismiss the theft of federal program funds against Lauritz Mills, but prosecutors went ahead with the tax fraud charges against the couple.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Lake was the prosecutor on the case, while attorney Treston Moore represented Lauritz Mills and attorney Gordon Rhea represented Frank Mills.
Jurors listened to two days of testimony and were handed the case just after lunch on Wednesday. They deliberated for close to two hours before returning with the not guilty verdicts.
When contacted Wednesday night, Lauritz Mills said she was grateful for the verdicts and that she was always sure that God would see her through and vindicate her. She said she is glad the nightmare is over, and she is ready to move on with her life.
“People ask me ‘What now,’” she said. “I just want to forgive who have knowingly done wrong to us and move forward from here.”
Rhea, speaking on behalf of Frank Mills, said that he never doubted his client’s innocence and that he was glad to see that the truth vindicated him.