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A former elected Gallatin County Clerk of District Court pleaded guilty Tuesday to accusations of wire fraud and falsifying income tax return documents relating to her money managing consulting firm.

As part of a plea agreement, Ellen Lorraine Van Ausdol pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making and subscribing to a false income tax return. Van Ausdol appeared in federal court Tuesday before Magistrate Jeremiah C. Lynch.

The agreement said Van Ausdol is responsible for repaying $444,000 to clients she defrauded through her consulting firm Fiduciary Consulting and Management, Inc., and $52,894 to the IRS. Van Ausdol’s consulting firm offers money management services for court-appointed clients, according to court documents.

The agreement allows Van Ausdol to argue for different restitution amounts at her July 19 sentencing.

Van Ausdol is accused of committing wire fraud from January 2010 to April 2016 and claiming a false income tax return in September 2014.

According to court documents:

Montana’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit received a complaint in 2015 that alleged Van Ausdol was misusing client funds. The unit began investigating, and in February referred the complaint to the Montana Department of Justice. The FBI later joined the investigation.

The investigation showed Van Ausdol embezzled approximately $444,000 from her clients from 2010 to 2016. The investigation also showed Van Ausdol owed an additional $52,894 to the IRS in taxes because she did not report additional money received through her embezzlement.

Van Ausdol admitted to embezzling money from her clients to law enforcement in 2015 and continued to work as a consultant. She told law enforcement that she used the money to cover gambling expenses.

Van Ausdol worked with the U.S. Attorney’s office and earlier this month came up with the agreement to repay her clients and the IRS.

Van Ausdol served as the Gallatin County Clerk of District Court from 1987 to November 2003. A year before her last four-year term was up, Van Ausdol resigned due to health reasons.

The Montana Secretary of State lists Fiduciary Consulting and Management, Inc. as “active good standing,” and its formation date is listed as February 2004.

Brian Gallik, attorney for Van Ausdol, declined to comment.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

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