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Barsness to undergo mental health evaluation

A doctor's evaluation will determine if Sheila Barsness, the suspect accused of fabricating grants, is competent to stand trial. During a settlement conference January 8, Barsness' attorney Kent Marshall requested she receive a mental health eval...

A doctor's evaluation will determine if Sheila Barsness, the suspect accused of fabricating grants, is competent to stand trial.

During a settlement conference January 8, Barsness' attorney Kent Marshall requested she receive a mental health evaluation under rule 20. Douglas County Attorney Chris Karpan agreed with the request.

All criminal proceedings will be suspended until the evaluation is complete, likely within 30 days, Karpan said.

The doctor's report will detail Barsness' mental condition, her capacity to understand the criminal proceedings and to participate in her defense, if treatment is required, and if her judgment was hindered at the time of the crimes because of mental illness.

If treatment is necessary, criminal proceedings will be postponed until treatment is complete, Karpan said.

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Barsness attended the settlement conference.

Case background

Barsness, former director of WesMin Resource Conservation and Development, allegedly fabricated numerous organizations and grants in 2006.

A Minnesota Attorney General investigation ensued, and Barsness was later charged with three counts of felony theft by false representations.

In December 2006, Barsness submitted her letter of resignation (she would have been fired by the WesMin board had she not), and in May 2007, the WesMin board voluntarily entered into an assurance of discontinuation with the attorney general that ensures the board take steps for more oversight of WesMin's daily operations.

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