Soldotna pull-tab clerk pleads guilty to theft

Montague accused of stealing $53,188.64

Posted: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The 32-year-old Soldotna woman accused a year ago of stealing as much as $53,000 from River City Pull Tabs reached a settlement agreement with the state Monday.

Brandi Montague, who had been employed by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce-owned pull tab business, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft, a class C felony, and agreed to pay $12,000 in restitution.

Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman accepted Montague's plea and set sentencing for June 15.

As outlined by defense attorney Angie O'Brien, Montague agreed to a sentence of 30 days in jail with a five-year suspended imposition of sentence, pay $12,000 and undergo a substance abuse evaluation, which may require up to 60 days of in-patient treatment or out-patient treatment.

According to Kenai District Attorney Lance Joanis, the suspended imposition of sentence means Montague essentially will be on felony probation for five years. If the probationary period is completed and probation is not revoked, the court may consider setting aside the conviction after the probationary term has expired.

A previous requirement of a court-approved third-party custodian while out of custody was vacated by Bauman as of Monday.

When Montague was arrested in March 2008, she was charged with first-degree theft, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

At the time of the arrest, Soldotna Police Sgt. Duane Kant said police were contacted by the Soldotna chamber, identifying Montague as the suspect.

She was accused of stealing $53,188.64 from River City Pull Tabs between July 2006 and June 2007.

According to a charging document, Montague said she used the money to support her addiction to painkillers and would rip the pull tabs and cash out any winnings.

The chamber discovered the theft after an annual audit conducted by Lambe, Tuter and Wagner Certified Public Accountants showed a suspicious loss.

Michelle Glaves, executive director of the chamber, said Montague worked as a pull tab clerk for about three years. Kant said the chamber identified Montague as a suspect as a result of an audit they conducted. The court charging document stated Montague cooperated with the chamber's investigation and admitted to the theft.

Bail in the amounts of $6,000 unsecured appearance bond and $4,000 cash performance bond are to remain in place, Bauman said.

Montague, who is not in custody pending sentencing, is to adhere to conditions of release, including no contact with River City Pull Tabs and no use or possession of any controlled substances.

Joanis said the chamber agreed to the $12,000 amount, adding they are looking into additional recovery through insurance.

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