justice system

A federal jury in Lafayette on Thursday found a Sulphur woman accused of stealing over $4 million from her employer not guilty on one charge of wire fraud, but a hung jury was declared on three other wire fraud charges.

Authorities said Elizabeth “Missy” Istre issued over 800 fraudulent checks from her employer’s corporate bank account from 2004 to 2014 and used the proceeds for personal expenses. She was a bookkeeper at LM Daigle Oil Distributors in Sulphur.

Istre was arrested in February 2014; she was indicted in August 2016 on four counts of wire fraud. According to court documents, her indictment included a stipulation that if she is convicted, she would have to “forfeit any property which constitutes or is derived from the proceeds traceable to the offense” — including 9.4 acres of property in Sulphur, six vehicles, a diamond and gold wedding ring, and $4.49 million.

Her trial began Monday in a Lafayette federal courtroom, with jury deliberation lasting two days.

“My client and I are pleased with the jury’s not guilty verdict,” defense attorney Todd S. Clemons said in a statement. “We know that they worked very hard and did their duty to the best of their abilities.”

Istre, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will be tried May 1 for the three wire fraud charges on which jurors could not reach agreement.

“We are optimistic that at the conclusion of the next trial, a jury of her peers will find her not guilty on all counts,” Clemons said. “We look forward to her vindication and her good name and reputation being restored.”