By T.J. Pyette
Douglas Komrosky will pay $16,620 in restitution to the local chapter of Walleyes Unlimited by 5 p.m. today in exchange for a three-year deferred sentence for stealing from the club while he was its treasurer.
The sentence, handed down today by District Court Judge John Warner, was part of a plea agreement entered into by Komrosky and the Hill County attorney.
Komrosky pleaded guilty Nov. 4 to a charge of felony theft by unauthorized control. He had faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
In court today, Komrosky's attorney, Robert Peterson, said Komrosky took the money "at a time when he was severely depressed and did not recognize it."
Peterson added that Komrosky "made some horrible decisions that he regrets."
Peterson also said that Komrosky had brought the mishandled funds to the attention of the club before it discovered the theft.
"That's the first I've heard of this," Warner said. "All the information I have doesn't indicate that."
Komrosky told the judge he informed the club about the money and participated in informal discussions with club officials in which they discussed methods of repayment before the club decided to pursue formal charges.
Chapter president Mike Barthel, who is a Havre police captain, declined to comment on the sentencing.
The theft took place from May 18, 1998, to Nov. 10, 2001, according to a criminal complaint. Barthel has said he began going over the club's books in January, and contacted the Hill County Sheriff's Office on March 19.
The original court complaint said Komrosky was suspected of stealing about $17,500 from the local chapter and about $3,000 from the Montana Walleye Circuit.
County Attorney Dave Rice said the criminal charge of theft from the Montana Walleye Circuit was dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Komrosky, a walleye fisherman and a registered pro member of the National Professional Anglers Association, apologized to the county attorney and the walleye club members.
"What I did was wrong, I admit that," he said. "I have always prided myself on being a fine upstanding citizen. I will regret this for the rest of my life."
In accepting the plea agreement, Warner said that because of the nonviolent nature of the crime, Komrosky does not meet the state's criteria for incarceration.
Warner said Komrosky's military career, from which he was honorably discharged, his lack of criminal history, his current employment status and his attitude also prompted the acceptance of the agreement.
Warner told Komrosky, "You will never get a chance like this again," adding that if Komrosky violates his probation, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
The deferred sentence means the charge will be dismissed if he meets all conditions of probation for three years.