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All charges dropped against former Broadwater County Commissioner

All charges have been dropped against former Broadwater County Commissioner Laura Obert.
Posted at 9:37 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 11:37:52-05

HELENA — All charges have been dropped against former Broadwater County Commissioner Laura Obert regarding allegations of theft and official misconduct.

Obert had been accused of violating a deferred prosecution agreement stemming from an incident dating back to 2015.

In 2015 Obert allegedly told Broadwater County Payroll to give her additional hourly pay over her salary pay as a commissioner.

Court records say the additional pay above her salary totaled $8,897.17. In a settlement, the county determined she had been overpaid by $4,257.

The Commissioner is also accused of not properly disclosing conflicts of interest when voting on matters where Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC) was involved. Her husband is the executive director of MBAC.

To resolve the matter, Obert entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in 2016, repaid the money requested by the state in full and agreed to disclose any further conflicts of interest as a commissioner.

Prosecutors alleged Obert breached the terms of that agreement by not disclosing her ties with MBAC on six separate occasions since the agreement was reached.

Judge Mike Menahan however ruled that the commissioner did not violate that agreement with the state, and prosecution did not have sufficient evidence to charge her with official misconduct.

Menahan wrote: “Obert’s actions were expressly authorized by law for the express purpose of realizing a public benefit to the citizens of Broadwater County.”

The court also found Obert never acted in excess of her lawful authority as a commissioner and her husband did not receive a personal advantage from her votes or decisions.