Havre Daily News
A Havre man who was found guilty of stealing thousands of dollars from TownHouse Inns had his final legal battle decided Wednesday, when the Montana Supreme Court decided to uphold his conviction and sentence.
It was over three years ago that Robert Field, the former manager of TownHouse Inns on First Street, was arrested and accused of stealing more than $17,000 from the hotel by filing false refund claims in the name of customers and keeping them. He was convicted of theft by deception by common scheme by a Havre jury in March 2003. He was sentenced the following month to six years in prison with all but 30 days suspended and to pay $18,000 in restitution to TownHouse Inns.
Field's appeal said he was entitled to a new trial because the prosecution had improperly withheld financial documents from his defense. It also said that Judge John McKeon should have accepted jury instructions submitted by Field's attorney, that McKeon improperly imposed the restitution amount without consulting the jury, and that the evidence wasn't sufficient to support the conviction.
Field's attorney had requested financial documents from the state that were briefly in police possession but were given back to the hotel because police did not think they related to the case, the Supreme Court's ruling says. According to the decision, prosecutors were not even aware of the documents until Field requested them after the trial. The high court agreed that Field was making a tactical maneuver by not trying to obtain the files directly from the hotel, and that Field's rights were not violated.
The Supreme Court also ruled against Field's other arguments in upholding his conviction and sentence.