Following a years-long investigation by the Montana Department of Justice, Broadwater County Commissioner Laura Marie Obert was charged with felony theft and misdemeanor official misconduct Thursday.
The theft charge dates back to 2015. Court documents allege that of the $8,897.17 Obert received in addition to her salaried wages for "insurance purposes" that year, at least $6,521.02 was unlawfully obtained.
If convicted, the theft charge brings a maximum penalty of $50,000 in fines or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
The official misconduct charge alleges that Obert voted multiple times to create and financially support a Targeted Economic Development District directed by the Montana Business Assistance Connection, of which her husband Brian Obert is the executive director. Court documents also say she failed to disclose the conflict of interest.
If convicted, the misconduct charge carries a maximum penalty of $500 in fines or six months in county jail. A public servant charged with official misconduct may be suspended from office without pay pending final judgement. If convicted, the public servant shall permanently forfeit his or her office. If acquitted after being suspended, the public servant must be reinstated and receive all back pay.
The case is set to be heard by First Judicial District Court Judge Mike Menahan. Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert has been appointed as special prosecutor in the case.