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October 21, 2014

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Former county official pleads guilty to 3 felonies

Plea deal results in dismissal of 15 other charges

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Sam Morris

Attorney Danny Hastings looks on as former Clark County Recorder Frances Deane enters a guilty plea a part of a plea bargain in District Court Friday, Aug. 14.

Frances Deane in Court (Aug. 14)

Former Clark County Recorder Frances Deane enters a guilty plea as part of a plea bargain in District Court Friday, Aug. 14. Launch slideshow »
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Frances Deane in July 2002.

More than three years after being charged, former Clark County Recorder Frances Deane pleaded guilty in District Court this morning to three felony counts stemming from a scheme to profit from her public office.

The plea was the result of a deal worked out within the last few days between the district attorney's office and the public defender's office, which is representing her.

Deane appeared frail in court and walked with a cane as a result of injuries Deputy Public Defender Danny Hastings said she suffered in a car accident in Utah Thursday on her way to Las Vegas from Wisconsin, where she now lives.

When District Judge Valorie Vega asked her how she intended to plead, she replied, "I'm guilty."

Deane kept her head down at the defense table most of the time, as she talked.

Deane pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft, misconduct of a public officer and unlawful commissions, personal profit and compensation of public officers.

A total of 15 other counts contained in the original charges will be dismissed.

District Attorney David Roger this morning called the plea agreement a fair deal.

"We're pleased that the defendant accepted responsibility for her criminal conduct, and we look forward to the court rendering a just punishment," Roger said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Scott Mitchell, who prosecuted Deane, said Deane faces a maximum of 15 years in prison on the three charges, but his office has agreed to stand silent on recommending prison time.

"Not only did she have to quit her job but she will never be able to run again for public office," Mitchell said. "She also will be a convicted felon. She's carrying a pretty heavy burden."

The plea deal also calls for Deane to make full restitution to the county.

Deane allegedly pocketed thousands of dollars from the sale of county documents under her control. One businessman testified that, in buying documents from Deane, he had $16,000 in cash delivered to her hidden in stuffed animals.

Vega set Deane's sentencing for Jan. 14.

Deane and Hastings declined to comment after the plea hearing.

Deane, who was elected recorder in November 2002, was removed her from office by a judge for malfeasance at the request of Roger.

Since then, her trial has been delayed five times, the latest as a result of a split last year with her former attorney.

The public defender's office was appointed to represent her last September.

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