Former KOFI Office Manager Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL – The former office manager of KOFI-AM in Kalispell, Kent Etchison, has pleaded guilty to fraudulently purchasing office supplies at the station’s expense in return for incentives from vendors.

“He regrets what happened. Beyond that I don’t want to comment,” Etchison’s attorney, Jeffrey Roth of Missoula, said Friday.

Etchison pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, who set sentencing for Sept. 26.

Authorities said Etchison ordered about $972,000 in office supplies, far more than the radio station could use, between March 2003 and June 2006.

The orders were placed primarily to vendors who offered incentives to Etchison, including a 19-inch TV, laptop computer, traveler’s checks, gift certificates, gift cards and money.

Roth said Etchison is free while awaiting sentencing and has moved to the Vancouver, Wash., area, where he has relatives.

“He’s trying to get his schooling done to enter a nursing program,” Roth told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Disagreement with management over whether or not to broadcast the Etchison indictment story led to the resignation in March of longtime KOFI radio newscaster George Ostrom.

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