Former CEO accused of stealing more than $100,000 from Manchester hospital pleads guilty

A former longtime Manchester hospital executive accused of misappropriating more than $100,000 pleaded guilty this week to a theft charge.

Lonnie D. Butikofer, 61, of Manchester, entered the plea in Iowa District Court of Delaware County to a charge of first-degree theft. The felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Court documents do not indicate that a plea was entered for Butikofer’s second charge — first-degree fraudulent practices, also a felony — so it is believed it will be dismissed as part of a plea deal.

According to court documents, employees at Regional Medical Center, where Butikofer was employed as CEO, identified some “inappropriate emails” in February 2017. The ensuing investigation led officials to “question the defendant’s work status on various dates and times.”

The investigation was turned over to the Iowa state auditor’s office. The agency ultimately determined that Butikofer and another employee, Michael D. Briggs, 53, of Manchester, had accumulated $256,675.52 in expenses “not found to be on RMC business,” according to court documents.

Most of the improper disbursements were tied to Butikofer, who was paid more than $143,000 for time spent on personal trips.

His guilty plea is for theft from January 2009 to February 2017. His sentencing hearing has been set for Dec. 3.

Briggs has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree theft in his related case. His next hearing is set for Nov. 19.