Autism therapist accused of stealing from clients

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SANDPOINT — A Naples autism therapist was arrested Thursday for defrauding her clients.

Krista Louise Kreiger-Hurst is charged with two counts of grand theft and two counts of financial transaction card fraud. She made an initial appearance in Bonner County Magistrate Court via video feed from the county jail.

Judge Lori Meulenberg set Kreiger-Hurst’s bail at $20,000 but denied the appointment of a public defender due to her income, court records show. However, Kreiger-Hurst can resubmit her application for the appointment of counsel if her financial status changes.

Kreiger, 48, is accused of unlawfully obtaining a woman’s financial transaction card last year and running up $3,193 in fraudulent charges at local and online businesses, in addition to cash withdrawals, according to a Ponderay Police affidavit.

Police cued up video of an ATM withdrawal and observed a woman with a coat zipped all the way to the top and a flu mask. The alleged victim crumpled to the floor as she immediately recognized the woman as her daughters’ autism therapist, the affidavit said.

Kreiger-Hurst was confronted about the thefts and allegedly confessed, saying that she was having a hard time making ends meet, according to the affidavit. During her arrest, a personal journal was recovered and it contained entries acknowledging that she stole and manipulated so she could gamble.

Kreiger-Hurst is further accused to stealing a Sagle woman’s debit card in January. The card was used to make fraudulent purchases, court records indicate. The Sagle woman described Kreiger-Hurst as her former caregiver.

Kreiger-Hurst listed her employer as Imagine Behavioral & Development Services, which has an office in Sandpoint. Kreiger-Hurst said in her application for a public defender that she expects to be fired for her misconduct.

A preliminary hearing in the case is pending.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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