WYNOT, Neb. — A former Wynot village clerk has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of theft by deception.
Rose Rolfes, 71, entered the plea this week in Cedar County District Court at Hartington, Nebraska. The appearance was scheduled as a pre-trial hearing, but both sides announced a plea agreement had been reached.
She had faced a charge of theft by deception $1,500-4,000. The Class 4 felony carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison, a 12 month post-release supervision and $10,000 fine.
Instead, she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of theft by deception $501-1,499, a Class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
During this week’s hearing, Cedar County Deputy Attorney Ed Matney recommended a sentence of $8,750 restitution — which has already been repaid to the district court clerk — and probation.
District Court Judge Bryan Meismer took the recommendation into consideration but said he isn’t bound by the plea agreement or its terms. The court can take into account the original charges, the judge added.
Rolfes allegedly committed the theft between the dates of Dec. 31, 2016, and June 18, 2019, according to court records. This week’s court hearing included an overview of the events leading to the theft charge.
Last December, Yankton attorney Mike Stevens, who represents the Village of Wynot, informed Cedar County Chief Deputy Sheriff Chad Claussen of apparent discrepancies with the village’s finances. They, along with Village Board Chairman Greg Hite, determined Rolfes owed $4,213.95 in unpaid utilities along with $4,536 in suspicious charges on the village credit card.
Under the plea agreement, Rolfes pleaded guilty to the lesser misdemeanor charge. She will meet with a probation officer as part of the pre-sentence investigation (PSI).
During the court hearing, Meismer said he was inclined to follow the state’s probation recommendation. However, he informed Rolfes, if she wasn’t cooperative with the PSI, she may not be found as a suitable candidate for probation.
Meismer set sentencing for Sept. 14 at the Cedar County Courthouse in Hartington.
Follow @RDockendorf on Twitter.