Tuesday, April 23, 2024

2nd weed employee charged in theft case

Robert Love arrested Thursday, bond set at $25,000

A second employee of the Stillwater County Weed Office has been charged criminally with allegedly stealing property and products from the county to use for private jobs.
Robert Love, 52, was arrested Thursday, Oct. 12, in Madison County on a warrant. Bail was set at $25,000.
Love is charged with felony theft by common scheme by accountability and misdemeanor official misconduct.
Specifically, Love is accused of working with his former supervisor — William Patterson — in knowingly and purposely using county equipment and products for private jobs that were not authorized or reported to the county. Additionally, Love is accused of submitting incomplete, altered or falsified time sheets for hours he was not performing county-related work, according to court documents.
The value of the equipment and product exceeded $1,500 and the amount of paid wages totaled $140.
The official misconduct charge is based on the same set of alleged facts.
The time span of the alleged activity is July 2015 through May 14, 2016. Patterson is also charged with felony theft by common scheme and misdemeanor official misconduct and has pleaded not guilty. Patterson was fired from that position in October 2016 following a criminal investigation conducted by the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI). Prior to being terminated, Patterson had been placed on administrative leave.
Love was appointed as the temporary weed coordinator by the Stillwater County Commissioners when DCI initially took over the case. He no longer works for the county, according to Stillwater County Finance Specialist Joe Morse.

Patterson and Love are accused of using county equipment, products and time to spray weeds on a large private ranch in Carbon County on at least two occasions in 2015. Love told investigators county resources used for the private ranch job included a truck, a Kubota side-by-side ATV, a Polaris 4-wheeler and county-purchased chemical, Tordon, according to court documents. A payment of $5,902.88 was made to Patterson’s private business, CW Resource Management. Love, who was earning $14 per hour at the time, submitted 10 hours to the county for work he performed on the private ranch on Aug. 5, 2015, according to court documents. Patterson submitted hours to the county for four dates in the summer of 2015, all of which he was working on the private ranch, according to court documents.
County chemicals taken for those four dates totaled $2,131. Patterson is also accused of taking a county “JackRabbit” sprayer valued at $849.
At some point, Love took three $40 Stillwater County backpack sprayers to his home in Billings where they were stored. Those were discovered during the course of the criminal investigation, according to court documents.
All together, the equipment, chemicals, cash and usage of county property totaled $5,135, according to court documents.

Last week, Yellowstone County officials charged Love with allegedly defrauding family and friends out of tens of thousands of dollars. He was arrested on five felony charges including deceptive practices and identity theft.