A former municipal court clerk has admitted to stealing more than $10,000 from the city over a period of about a year.
Carolyn Meyer Bishop pleaded guilty to theft by embezzlement in Yellowstone County District Court on Tuesday.
Bishop, 55, took cash from defendants making payments on fines to Billings Municipal Court, according to charges. The thefts spanned from roughly April 2016 to March 2017, her admission states.
A plea deal calls for a joint recommendation of five years of probation, $10,806.40 in restitution, a cognitive principles and restructuring course and an apology letter to the city and to the court administrator, whose login Bishop had used to void payments.
The joint request will also seek a $4,000 fine. The statutory maximum was $10,000.
The thefts involved 23 municipal court defendants, according to charges. Initially the city tallied $9,096.40 in thefts but discovered additional thefts after the case was submitted for prosecution, according to Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Margaret Gallagher.
In each case, Bishop entered the payment into the clerk’s record-keeping system but went back later and voided it, charges state. Bishop then closed many of the cases.
Bishop was pinpointed as the suspect after an investigation by the Billings Police Department.
Bishop was hired as a clerk in January 2015, according to her statement to police.
Sentencing has been set for July.