The man Stillwater County picked to take over after a department head was fired amid theft accusations also stole from the county, charging documents allege.

Robert Love, 52, has been charged with accountability for theft (common scheme), a felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor. He appeared in Stillwater County District Court for his arraignment on Oct. 19. A trial date has not yet been set.

Love took over as interim weed coordinator after William Patterson was fired. Patterson, who was terminated in October 2016, has since been charged with felony theft and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

That was after a months-long Division of Criminal Investigation review found Patterson had used county chemicals and equipment to spray weeds on private land.

According to court documents, Patterson made a private contract with the Sunlight Ranch in Carbon County to spray for weeds over the summer of 2015.

The contract stated that Patterson would provide the equipment, including a truck, side-by-side sprayer and ATV that belonged to the county.

The Sunlight contract paid $5,900 to Patterson, charges state. To complete the work, investigators estimated that he used $5,135 worth of county assets. That included chemicals and the time of a county employee, Rob Love, who was paid for county work hours for the job.

When Patterson was let go, Love took over as interim director. The Weed District Board appointed him in July 2016.

But the DCI investigation found Love was also at fault in the matter.

“Patterson and Love together took chemicals, equipment, cash and usage of county property” amounting to $5,135, charging documents for Love state.

In addition to the work at Sunlight Ranch, Love took and stored three $40 chemical spray backpacks at private homes in Billings, charging documents state.

Love also faces charges in Yellowstone County, after prosecutors here say he stole more than $8,000 from an acquaintance during the man’s months-long hospital stay, and opened credit cards in his family members’ names, including his daughter’s, who was unable to secure a student loan afterward. He faces five felonies in that case.

Love was hired on June 8, 2015, and terminated on Jan. 9, 2017.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.