A Billings man was sentenced to probation Thursday after defrauding a friend and a family member out of more than $20,000.
Robert Charles Love, 53, was given a six-year deferred imposition of sentence in Yellowstone County District Court on five felonies and two misdemeanors.
Love used credit cards belonging to his daughter and opened two additional credit cards in her name, charging roughly $13,000 to the new cards. He also took roughly $8,800 from the bank account of an acquaintance during the man’s three-month hospital stay. Love admitted the charges in September.
Judge Jessica Fehr followed the joint recommendation of a six-year deferred sentence, saying she thought Love seemed sincere in his desire to mend his relationship with the daughter and friend he stole from. She said the deferred sentence would best allow Love to pay down the roughly $22,800 in restitution he now owes.
Fehr, who previously worked as a federal prosecutor, noted that under federal sentencing guidelines, Love’s charges likely would have landed him in prison for two years, and that identity theft was a serious crime.
Love spoke briefly, says his actions had been “selfish, that he hadn’t meant to hurt either person he stole from, and that he was committed to paying the restitution.
Love must write apology letters as part of his sentencing.
Love also has criminal charges pending in Stillwater County District Court, where he is accused of using county equipment and billing the county for a private weed spraying job. Love and his former supervisor in the Stillwater County Weed District, William Patterson, were both charged in the case.
Neither case has reached a resolution, according to court filings.
Love's case, filed in October 2017, was set for trial in April, but there has been no recorded action since February, when the prosecutor filed notice that the parties were working toward a resolution but that a jury trial was still possible.
Patterson's May trial was vacated, and the only recorded update since has been documentation of Patterson's $25,000 bond being lowered to $2,500, a request made by the state. Patterson was charged in May 2017.
Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde said in September she did not discuss open cases with the press and declined multiple requests for comment.