A former legal assistant was sentenced to six years probation for embezzling about $80,000 from the Belgrade city attorney’s law firm.

Staci Todd has repaid $65,464 to the Ramler Law Office, whose attorney Rick Ramler has served as the Belgrade city attorney since 1997. She is also required to get written permission from her probation officer before starting a business or engaging in financial transactions of $500 or more.

Todd appeared in Gallatin County District Court last week before Judge Holly Brown.

She pleaded guilty in June to felony theft by embezzlement as part of a plea agreement.

The law office reported that Todd was stealing from the business in April 2018, according to charging documents.

Police said in charging documents that Todd was a legal assistant at the firm for about three years. She was responsible for deposits to the firm’s bank account, preparing checks and maintaining its books, but wasn’t authorized to sign checks.

Because the case involved the firm that represents the city, Belgrade police requested that the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations take over the case.

In May 2018, a DCI agent met with Ramler and two other employees. Police said Todd reportedly admitted to them that she stole from the law firm. She told Ramler she had a gambling addiction and that she was prepared to go to jail.

Todd was fired from the firm.

Police said an investigation showed that between January 2016 and March 2018, Todd stole about $79,508 from the office in various ways.

Charging documents said a majority of the money was taken directly from the law firm using forged signatures, duplicate payroll checks and reimbursements for items that were never authorized. Todd also reportedly cashed forged checks to take money from a trust fund that holds money exclusively used for settling claims.

Police said Todd agreed to an interview with investigators and immediately admitted she stole money from the firm and said she deeply regretted it. She said she had been receiving treatment for her gambling addiction and that she intended to pay back the stolen money.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

Reporter

Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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