ELKO – A former undersheriff was given a suspended sentence in district court Monday for misusing an Elko County credit card, nearly six years after it was discovered he used his employer’s credit card for personal purchases.
Rick Keema, 51, was found guilty by Judge Nancy Porter in Elko District Court after pleading no contest in March to one count of conspiracy to commit theft by misappropriation, a gross misdemeanor.
Keema was given a suspended sentence of 90 days in jail and was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 and restitution in the amount of $807.57. He was not placed on probation.
In rendering her decision, Porter told Keema that by misusing “your county credit card ... you betrayed public trust in doing so.”
“That being said, you have no criminal history. It would be a poor use of resources and taxpayer dollars to put you in jail or on probation.”
“You’ve already harmed yourself so severely, that further punishment in terms of jail or probation would serve no attributive or rehabilitative purposes,” continued Porter.
Keema was ordered to make a $500 monthly payment on his fine and restitution by the 15th of each month, however, if a payment is missed, “you could be subject to serving those 90 days in jail,” said Porter.
Keema was further ordered to be booked at the Elko County Jail by 5 p.m. Monday.
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Attorney David Lockie told the court that Keema wanted to take “full responsibility” for the charge, explaining that Keema had no prior criminal history and had “a long, honorable record” in law enforcement, recently moving into the “private sector” and living in Carson City.
Lockie went on to tell the court that Keema’s actions were “not some form of calculated theft,” and that the plea agreement was offered to the defense by District Attorney Mark Torvinen, who was fully aware of “all of the details and transactions” in the case.
“It’s our position that Mr. Torvinen discerned this case to be … not one of calculated intent to steal, but one of poor … judgment, not paying attention.”
In regard to restitution, Lockie said Keema had paid back the county “a long time ago,” yet Lockie was unaware of the $807 restitution revealed during sentencing, but told Porter they refused to challenge the additional amount.
Keema declined to speak on his behalf.
It was discovered in 2011 through credit card statements between May and July of 2011 that Keema was suspected of making personal purchases of baseball bats and sunglasses and paying phone and AT&T bills on the county credit card issued by his employer.
Keema stated in 2016 that he had reimbursed the County for the payments and purchases, which totaled $3,074, according to previous reports.
In 2012, Keema resigned as undersheriff a year after his appointment to the position by Sheriff Jim Pitts as he was not certified in Peace Officer and Standards Training.