Montana Woman Admits to Stealing $30k from Dentist

A Dillon woman admitted Tuesday to stealing from local dentist John McCollum while she worked as his employee.

Kristy Brown Staley, 61, pleaded guilty to felony theft (common scheme embezzlement) in Fifth Judicial District Court. She admitted she charged fraudulent purchases to McCollum’s business credit card ranging from 2015 to April 2021, multiple times, for her own use. Kristy Staley was a 42-year employee of McCollum’s dental practice, and her name was on his business credit card for office purchases.

Kristy Staley was originally charged with felony counts of conspiracy: exploitation of an older Person, incapacitated person, or person with developmental disabilities (common scheme), and two counts of Theft (common scheme). The remaining charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Defense attorney David Maldonado presented a $30,000 check from Mr. and Mrs. Staley’s account in restitution for the thefts. District Court Judge Luke Berger suggested the Beaverhead County Attorney’s office hold onto that check until after sentencing.

The plea agreement filed in district court seeks a six-year deferred sentence for Kristy Staley, and 30 days in jail if she does not comply with all of the terms of the plea agreement (including paying the restitution amount). Deferred sentences allow defendants to comply with specific conditions, and later request the charge be removed from their record.

Berger reminded both sides in the case that by law, he does not have to follow the plea agreement when sentencing. He noted if he sentences differently from the recommendations, Kristy Staley can withdraw her plea and the case can proceed with the original charges, and potentially head to trial.

Sentencing will occur at a later date, and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. Berger reminded Kristy Staley he considers that report along with any offenses she could commit between now and the sentencing date.

A separate case against Kristy’s son, 36-year-old Kevin Roy Staley, was dismissed as part of Kristy Staley’s plea agreement. He was originally charged with felony conspiracy: exploitation of an older person, incapacitated person, or person with developmental disabilities (common scheme). Kevin Staley was accused of defrauding John McCollum by lowballing an offer to purchase McCollum’s property, twice. At the time, McCollum was recovering from a medical procedure and under heavy painkillers, according to charging documents.

The charges in both cases resulted from a Department of Health and Human Services investigation, started by McCollum’s family members and then sent to local law enforcement. Family members reported fraudulent purchases on McCollum’s business card for vehicle parts that did not match his cars, and for meals and purchases made in Utah when McCollum was in Idaho.

Kristy Staley faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine. She is out of jail on bond.

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