A former employee at the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office denied the theft charges stemming from an embezzlement scheme from which she is alleged to have taken $90,000.
Nicole Fister, 36, was charged with felony theft, common scheme on April 29 and pleaded not guilty on May 8.
According to charging documents, Fister was a sheriff’s office employee until April 17, serving nine years with the FCSO. Before that, Fister – a civilian employee – was the secretary and treasurer for both the Flathead County Sheriff’s Employee Association and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Association Show Fund.
Fister became the secretary and treasurer for the employee association at the beginning of the year, and, in that capacity, had the authority to issue checks from the association’s account at First Montana Bank.
She began her tenure as the secretary and treasurer with the association show fund four years ago, and had the authority to issue checks from the show fund account at Three River’s Bank.
The employee association is a nonprofit group made of non-management employees at the sheriff’s office. No public funds were involved in the alleged theft; the money used fund the employee association’s account came from dues and fundraisers. The money typically is used for charitable causes, according to the sheriff’s office.
On April 17, Sheriff Chuck Curry learned of three suspicious checks Fisher allegedly issued from the association’s account: one written to her on April 1 for $1,000; one written to her son on April 5 for $2,500; and one written to herself on April 15 for $3,000.
Fister’s son has a checking account at Glacier Bank that she co-signed on, court documents say, and all three questionable checks were deposited in that account.
Prosecutors say that Fister admitted to stealing the money from the three checks when questioned by detectives, and also said she had illegally cashed 30 or more checks, totaling more than $30,000 on the show fund account in the last two years.
Detectives reported that Fister said she used the money for personal expenses and also gave some of it to her son and daughter.
Fister was fired immediately upon the discovery of the alleged theft, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. The total amount of the embezzlement is has not yet been determined by a pending audit, but the statement said it will “exceed $90,000.”
Fister was released on her own recognizance with standard conditions after pleading not guilty, and should her case go to trial, it will happen in the fall.
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