Former Rolette County sheriff sentenced to probation
DEVILS LAKE -- A judge here has ordered the former sheriff of Rolette County, N.D., to serve a year of unsupervised probation. Richard Turcotte of Belcourt, N.D., pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to perform his duty as a public...
DEVILS LAKE -- A judge here has ordered the former sheriff of Rolette County, N.D., to serve a year of unsupervised probation.
Richard Turcotte of Belcourt, N.D., pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to perform his duty as a public servant. The plea came as part of an agreement that Turcotte made with the prosecution.
One charge alleged Turcotte knowingly released a man who had a warrant for his arrest. The other count accused the former sheriff of failing to follow a judge's order to take a woman into custody after a urine test indicated she used drugs.
On Wednesday, the 62-year-old Turcotte told Judge Lee Christofferson of state District Court that he committed both offenses.
Turcotte also said he would turn over his peace officer's license to the court. He said he's retired and has no plans to resume his law enforcement career.
The judge deferred imposing a sentence on Turcotte, which means that if the former sheriff maintains a clean record for a year, the charges against him will be dismissed.
Turcotte resigned as sheriff in August 2008 after North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem accused him of employing as deputies people not licensed as peace officers, failing to keep proper records of county property and not having appropriately trained staff supervising inmates at the county jail, among other allegations.
Turcotte was criminally charged in December 2008. Ramsey County State's Attorney Lonnie Olson and Christofferson, who is based in Devils Lake, handled the case to avoid potential conflicts of interest in Rolette County.
After Wednesday's hearing, Olson said he felt the disposition of the case was appropriate considering Turcotte's age, health issues and law enforcement service.
Turcotte was a police officer in Belcourt for about 17 years before becoming sheriff in January 2007.
Olson said this was the first time he'd prosecuted a law enforcement officer.
"As a prosecutor, you handle every case that comes before you," he said. "It's not any more difficult than any other case."
Turcotte declined to comment as he left the courtroom.
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