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Man asked if he could return the money

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A Missoula man admitted to his role in stealing money from the safe of a Ronan tavern where he worked. Adrian Paul Dodson, 24, pleaded guilty at District Court in Polson on Dec. 17 to misdemeanor charges of theft and criminal trespass. He was initially facing felony charges of theft and burglary, but the charges were reduced as part of a plea agreement.

According to court records, on Oct. 7, 2019, a Ronan police officer found a money bag that belonged to the Club Bar in Ronan. Owners of the bar, Vicki and Richard Wheeler, confirmed that the bag was theirs and that it had been stolen from their safe. Video surveillance, at the bar, showed Dodson enter the bar after hours, go to where the key is kept, then go to the safe and leave.

The Wheelers determined $1,525.25 was missing. A person listed as a reference on Dodson’s job application later called the Wheelers, apparently on Dodson’s behalf, asking if they would drop the charges if Dodson returned the money.

Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher fined Dodson $500 and gave him a six-month jail sentence with all but two days jail time suspended. Christopher also ordered Dodson to pay back the money. 

Dodson appeared at District Court in Polson via video conference from a pre-release center in Great Falls where he was charged with forgery and burglary, according to his public defender, Elizabeth Ehret.

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