Former Yellowstone County Museum director admits to stealing at least $30,000 from museum

mt-yellowstone-museum-wide1Billings – The former director of the Yellowstone County Museum has pleaded guilty to felony theft in Yellowstone County District Court.

Charles “Chas” Weldon was the  museum’s director from 2008 to 2013.

In a plea agreement negotiated between prosecutors and defense attorneys and approved by District Judge Ingrid Gustafson, Weldon admitted to stealing more than $30,000 beginning in 2009 in exchange for a deferred sentence and restitution.

According to District Court documents, museum board directors took over Weldon’s responsibilities in October 2013 because he was ill. The directors found discrepancies and odd financial records, prosecutors alleged in court records.

Weldon pleaded not guilty in September but changed his plea last week, admitting he used a debit card or cash belonging to the museum for personal expenses “on a number of occasions” and that he did not reimburse the museum when payments were made to him for museum events.

Although Weldon estimated he had taken at least $31,000, the plea agreement requires him to pay $24,000 restitution to the Yellowstone County Museum. The plea agreement also includes a deferred sentence of six years.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 8.

The felony theft charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.