COUNCIL BLUFFS — A Council Bluffs woman has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with a former Walmart employee to steal thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise.

Jeri Atilano entered the plea Tuesday to charges of second-degree theft, conspiracy to commit a nonforcible felony and ongoing criminal conduct.

Atilano, 30, was arrested Jan. 19 and released from Pottawattamie County Jail after posting 10 percent of her $25,000 bail. Trial has been set for April 5.

Atilano is accused of working with a former cashier at the North 16th Street Walmart to steal merchandise. The former cashier, Keisha Kephart, 24, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree theft. As part of a plea deal, ongoing criminal conduct charges were dropped. Kephart was sentenced to two years of probation.

Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Kerrie Snyder said Kephart would also have to testify against Atilano on behalf of the state.

According to court documents, Kephart would mark down merchandise for Atilano and accept coupons, which were for different items, from Atilano. Walmart officials said the coupons made many of the items free.

According to the documents, the thefts began in August and continued for weeks. The store lost more than $4,000.

Atilano’s attorney, William McGinn, said it’s too early to know how Kephart’s case affects his client’s. He also said that, so far, Kephart has not been added as a witness.

McGinn said Atilano pleaded not guilty to preserve all of her options.

“We still have a trial in place, and, if there’s no agreement before then, we’ll go to trial,” McGinn said.

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