Theft charges filed against former Elko County undersheriff

Theft charges filed against former Elko County undersheriff

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ELKO – The Elko County District Attorney charged former lawman Rick Keema with felony theft on Tuesday, alleging the undersheriff spent county funds on personal merchandise or bills in 2011.

Allegations against Keema, who was picked to the No. 2 position by Sheriff Jim Pitts, came to light in the fall of 2011. Keema said at the time that he accidentally used his county credit card, but had since paid it back.

He characterized the incident as a minor event that had been blown out of proportion.

The criminal complaint lists nine purchases, among them a $738 phone bill and a $245 baseball bat, totaling more than $3,000.

Keema is charged with theft in the aggregate amount of $2,500 or more, a category B felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He also faces seven alternative theft counts.

Will Thurston, Nevada Department of Public Safety investigator, provided an unsworn affidavit that accompanied the complaint. He interviewed witnesses and examined Keema’s financial records, it stated.

In the charging document, DA Mark Torvinen requested a summons be issued and a preliminary hearing be scheduled.

In a 2013 interview, Pitts distanced himself from the investigation against his former undersheriff.

Keema, who failed to become POST-certified within a year of being named undersheriff, left the force in the spring of 2012.


Updated May 4, 2015: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect maximum penalty for the theft charge.


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