Suspicious death goes to grand jury

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Larry and Lori Isenberg (via Facebook)

COEUR d’ALENE — A grand jury will convene Wednesday to determine if there is enough evidence to charge Lori Isenberg in the death of her husband.

Depending on the outcome of this week’s proceedings, Isenberg, who is serving five years in prison for embezzling almost $2 million from a North Idaho charity, could face murder charges for the 2018 death of Larry Isenberg.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh would not confirm Monday if his office over the past several weeks ordered subpoenas be sent to potential witnesses, or that a hearing is in the offing.

However, The Press reached several witnesses who confirmed they’ll be testifying, but did not want their names disclosed.

Grand Jury hearings usually begin on Wednesdays in Coeur d’Alene’s First District Court, according to jury commissioners.

Jury Commissioner Pete Barnes confirmed the grand jury will convene this week.

Sheriff’s Office detectives finished an almost two-year investigation into the death of Larry Isenberg late last year and sent the results to the prosecutor’s office, Lt. Ryan Higgins said Monday.

“I heard they have been sending out subpoenas,” Higgins said. “Hopefully the family can get some closure.”

Laurcene “Lori” Isenberg, 65, pleaded guilty a year ago in U.S. District Court to wire fraud and theft charges for embezzling a large amount of cash from the North Idaho Housing Coalition - a local organization that helps poor people find affordable housing.

Despite being sentenced to prison, Isenberg remained under investigation for the suspicious death of her husband, Larry, who she said fell off the couple’s boat February 13, 2018 during a morning outing near Powderhorn Bay. The incident occurred one day after The Press first reported the embezzlement investigation.

Isenberg reported to sheriff’s deputies that her husband had bumped his head and that he had fallen overboard into the frigid water on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s east side. Larry Isenberg’s body was later recovered in Windy Bay on the lake’s west side. An autopsy revealed he most likely died from an overdose of Benadryl.

Isenberg was initially indicted on four embezzling counts after Coeur d’Alene Police investigators say she took about $580,000 from the coalition. She pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud while her daughters, Jessica F. Barnes, 36, and Amber A. Hosking, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit program theft for receiving embezzled funds.

Barnes and Hosking were sentenced to three years probation and 100 hours of community service. Hosking was ordered to pay $16,500 in restitution and Barnes was required to repay $15,500, according to court records.

Last October, a judge in a civil suit filed by the North Idaho Housing Coalition in 2018 ordered Isenberg to pay $1.7 million of about $2.3 million that the coalition said had gone missing.

While Coeur d’Alene Police investigated the embezzlement, the investigation into the death of Larry Isenberg was turned over to sheriff’s office detectives who filed search warrants in Spokane County showing Larry Isenberg’s autopsy revealed lethal levels of Benadryl in his system.

Until recently, the sheriff’s office would not comment on the investigation as detectives continued to follow leads and compile evidence.

That changed this week.

“The sheriff’s office investigation is wrapped up and it’s been handed over to the prosecutor’s office,” Higgins said. “It’s a good thing. It’s been a long investigation.”

Comprised of 16 jurors, grand jury proceedings are held in secret and indictments are often not made public until a case is adjudicated and then only at a judge’s discretion.

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