By Ron VandenBoom
A former court clerk pleaded guilty this morning in 12th
Judicial District Court to the felony theft of $10,679 from
Havre's City Court.
Joan Daulton, aka Joan Nordon, 39, was alleged to have
taken the funds from the court between December 1997 and
August 2000, while she was employed as city court clerk.
Before accepting her guilty plea, District Court Judge John
Warner advised Daulton of her rights and asked her whether
she understood those rights, had consulted with an attorney,
and made the plea voluntarily.
A plea agreement between the Daulton's attorney and the
county attorney asking that Daulton receive 60 days in jail,
make restitution, and receive probation was also read aloud
by Warner before he accepted the plea.
A sentencing date was set for 1:30 p.m. March 23.
Daulton could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in
prison and fines of up to $50,000 for felony theft.
Daulton allegedly signed for funds received from the Havre
Police Department and from people paying court ordered
fines, but not depositing the funds or process the tickets
through the court system.
City Judge Joyce Perszyk discovered the missing funds while
Daulton was on vacation. She immediately notified the Havre
Police who started an investigation.
A search of Daulton's east Havre home by Havre police and
an agent of the Montana Department of Justice on Aug. 23,
2000 turned up complaints, receipts and time-pay cards
belonging to the court.
An independent audit commissioned by the City of Havre also