Charged with embezzling a half-million dollars and believed to be the last person to see her husband alive, Lori Isenberg skipped her arraignment Friday, prompting a judge to issue a $500,000 bench warrant.
The former North Idaho Housing Coalition director accused of stealing from her nonprofit employer also failed to appear Monday, but prosecutors didn’t pursue a warrant. Her attorney, Erik Smith, told the court she was traveling.
When Isenberg missed her felony arraignment again Friday – a hearing that took less than three minutes – Kootenai County District Judge Scott Wayman took swift action.
“I see there’s nobody sitting next to you,” Wayman said to Smith. “Do you have a lawful reason why she’s not here today?”
“I do not, your honor,” answered Smith, whose client posted $75,000 bond shortly after being arrested for embezzlement in late February.
Isenberg, 64, hasn’t been seen in North Idaho for weeks, and according to the Coeur d’Alene Press, has signed her homes over to her sister. Her whereabouts are unknown.
On Feb. 13, the same day news spread that Isenberg was both under investigation for potential embezzlement and no longer with the NIHC, she reported her husband, Larry Isenberg, missing. She told the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office she witnessed Larry Isenberg, 68, fall into Lake Coeur d’Alene as the two were on a morning boat ride.
According to an incident report, Lori Isenberg said she looked for her husband for “maybe two hours” in Powderhorn Bay near Harrison before she could get to a phone and call for help. A week later in an email to friends, she said tried to reach him but tripped on the heater and hit her head.
“I cannot describe the pain I feel,” she wrote. “It is like half of me is gone.”
The body of Larry Isenberg, a longtime forester and business owner, was found March 1 in Sun-Up Bay near Worley. The Spokesman-Review asked for a coroner’s report from Kootenai County coroner Warren Keene, who denied it on the grounds that “the investigation is ongoing.” An official cause of death has not yet been released.
The embezzlement case is now on hold until Lori Isenberg is arrested and back in Kootenai County. She can be extradited from any U.S. state, according to officials, and extradition agreements between the U.S. and other countries could also be utilized.
NIHC president Kerri Thoreson was at Friday’s hearing, hoping that Isenberg would show up the second time.
“On a personal level, it’s hard,” Thoreson said outside the courthouse. “That trust that you have in someone for a long time. I don’t think anyone is really prepared for something like this. I think everyone’s still reeling. This has a surreal feel to it.
“We’re eager to have the legal process start and for her to have her day in court. But to have her day in court, she needs to show up.”
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