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updated: 8/26/2014 11:40 PM

Trial starts for Naperville agency CEO

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The trial began Tuesday for the founder and former CEO of a Naperville adoption agency accused of embezzling more than $200,000.

Robert Geniesse, 52, is accused of funneling the money from Our Children's Homestead, a nonprofit foster care and adoption agency, to a film company he operated with his wife, Inga Howe. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the 10 felony theft counts.

Geniesse founded Our Children's Homestead in 1995 and remained CEO until the board of directors fired him in March 2011, sparking a criminal investigation, an officials said. He later moved to Ormond Beach, Fla., where he lived at the time of his indictment.

Authorities said Geniesse used agency money to produce documentaries for Reverse Momentum Films, a company he launched with Howe.

He also has been accused of using an agency credit card for hotel rooms, rental cars and other expenses related to productions in Kenya and the Philippines, according to court records.

During Tuesday's opening arguments, however, defense attorney Joseph Solon argued in opening statements that the only thing Geniesse is guilty of is "sloppy bookkeeping."

Solon said Geniesse could account for all of the money and had even reimbursed the agency for credit expenses racked up on the agency's credit card.

"It's all there," Solon said. "This isn't a case about the money, it's a case about intent."

Geniesse fled to Germany in October 2012, just days before he was indicted.

Officials said Tuesday that Howe is still there and not charged with any wrongdoing.

The Illinois attorney general's office said they brought Geniesse back to Illinois last year.

Our Children's Homestead is based in Naperville, but also has an office in Rockford. It serves nearly 200 foster children in seven counties and is a licensed adoption provider.

Testimony in the case is expected to continue through this week and into next week.

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