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Assistant AG sheds light on decision to accept Adler plea

HELENA – The prosecutor in the case against Scott Adler responded to inquiries Tuesday regarding the plea agreement reached January 11 in District Court.

Kenneth Varns, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the case, was unable to respond to requests for an interview Monday when the Flint Creek Courier reported the plea agreement reached by the state with Adler regarding charges of Theft by Embezzlement and Official Misconduct that were filed Feb. 15, 2018. Adler was allowed to plea to Misdemeanor Theft that is deferred for one year with restitution, with the two original charges being dismissed.

While some Granite County residents felt that Adler should be removed from office as a result of the charges, Varns explained that his office’s investigation was not as clear cut as some would have believed.

“The reason for the agreement is that, as we began to prepare for trial and interview witnesses,” wrote Varns in an email to the Flint Creek Courier Tuesday, “some facts were discovered that supported Adler’s claim that he was testing the equipment for the benefit of the county and not solely for his own benefit (as required by the official misconduct charge). Because of this, we felt there was real risk of losing the entire case at trial. As a compromise, Mr. Adler was allowed to plead guilty to the theft count.”

Varns continued, explaining the amount of restitution that was ordered by the court and agreed to by his office.

“Restitution is designed to make the victim whole. In other words to replace what was taken from the victim, not necessarily the value of what was gained by a defendant. The restitution amount in this case was determined to be the value of the millings used (negligible), the labor cost of using county employees and wear and tear on county equipment. The $1,450 already paid by Adler adequately covered this amount.”

Adler is in his second term as the Granite County Commissioner representing District 1 in the northern portion of the county.

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