Felony charge against fired county weed coordinator to be dismissed

Plea deal calls for a deferred sentence on misdemeanor charge of official misconduct
By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Monday, January 28, 2019

Courtesy photo

William Patterson

Yellowstone County Detention Facility photo

Robert Love

Prosecutors are dismissing a felony theft charge against fired Stillwater County weed coordinator Will Patterson as part of a plea agreement. 

In addition, the Stillwater County Attorney’s Office will recommend a 6-month deferred sentence on the remaining misdemeanor count of official misconduct. 

If the judge accepts the recommended sentence under the plea agreement, the misconduct charge could be cleared from Patterson’s record if he abides by all of the imposed conditions for six months. Patterson was fired from his position in October 2016. Paperwork for the plea agreement was filed Friday in 22nd Judicial District Court. Patterson had been scheduled to go to trial today, Jan. 28.

That paperwork contains a statement from Patterson, which reads as follows: 

“During July 2015 through May 2016, while I was employed as a weed coordinator for Stillwater County, I utilized county property, including vehicles and weed spraying equipment, in order to perform work for parties other than Stillwater County, and received payment to my personal business of CW Resources Management, LLC from private properties and other businesses.” 

Patterson’s next scheduled court date is Feb. 21. He now lives in Texas. 

 

THE CASE 

According to court documents, Patterson fell under investigation in 2016 when photographic evidence of county weed equipment on private property was brought to the attention of the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office and Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde. The investigation was initially conducted by the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, but it was turned over to the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) when it became apparent it was a complicated case. 

According to court documents, an investigation conducted by DCI over the course of several months revealed that Patterson used county equipment and chemicals for personal use. Specifically, in July and August 2015, Patterson used the county’s “spray truck” — a Kubota side-by-side — and an ATV to spray a private ranch in Carbon County, according to court documents. On a contract for the job, Patterson listed the equipment as belonging to him. Patterson was paid $5,902.88 for the job. Patterson told DCI he had sprayed the private ranch in Carbon County, but had done so with his own property and chemicals. He also claimed to have owned a Kubota side-by-side but had since sold it. However, he could not provide proof of that sale, according to court documents. Patterson acknowledged having the county’s trailer, which he was using to transport his personal ATV for a friend, according to court documents. 

Patterson also told the DCI investigator that he had the county’s trailer at his personal shop because he often performed maintenance and repairs. DCI agents also checked Patterson’s private business receipts for the names of businesses he told them he used to purchase chemicals from. The agents found no receipts from any of the businesses Patterson had listed. Between May 12, 2015, and June 27, 2016, the county purchased $8,600 of one specific chemical from Monda Ag Sales, who had won the bid with the county. An employee with that business told agents that after Patterson had been placed on administrative leave, he asked if they would sell him the chemical at the county rate, according to court documents. 

Pornography was also discovered on Patterson’s Stillwater County computer after he was placed on administrative leave. Patterson was terminated from the county in October 2016, and within days, he was arrested on a felony theft charge out of Cascade County. 

According to Cascade County court documents, Patterson was terminated from his job with Cascade County Public Works in October 2014. In November 2014, the director of public works reported several items were missing, including an air tank that Patterson was known to have kept in his van. Also missing were six tires – four of which had been specially ordered – and a truck’s front grill, according to court documents. Other employees had reported seeing Patterson’s personal vehicle on county property during non-business hours. Patterson had asked a co-worker about doing some repair work on his truck which had “extensive damage” to the front end. 

When Cascade County Sheriff’s deputies went to Patterson’s home, they found his personal vehicle in his driveway with tires and a grill that matched those that had been reported missing. Patterson was unable to provide a receipt for the tires or an explanation where he got them from, according to court documents. A felony theft charge was amended to misdemeanor theft, to which Patterson pleaded guilty, according to court documents filed in Cascade County.

Also charged in the Stillwater County case is Patterson’s former employee at the county, Robert Love. Love is accused of working with Patterson in knowingly and purposely using county equipment and products for private jobs that were not authorized or reported to the county. Additionally, Love is accused of submitting incomplete, altered or falsified time sheets for hours he was not performing county-related work, as well as having county equipment at his home in Billings, according to court documents. All together, the equipment, chemicals, cash and usage of county property totaled $5,135, according to court documents. 

The official misconduct charge is based on the same set of alleged facts. The time span of the alleged activity is July 2015 through May 14, 2016. Love was recently given a 6-year deferred sentence in Yellowstone County for defrauding his own daughter out of more than $20,000, as well as $8,800 from an acquaintance

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