By NIKKI YOUNK
CRYSTAL FALLS - A former Alpha clerk accused of embezzling money from the village has accepted a plea deal.
Nicholas Rickman and attorney Geoffrey Lawrence
Nicholas John Rickman, 34, of Alpha pleaded guilty to three felony counts of attempted forgery.
He will face a maximum penalty of 21 years in prison when he is sentenced in Iron County Trial Court on March 4.
Pursuant to the plea deal, Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell agreed to reduce the three original felony counts of forgery to three felony counts of attempted forgery.
She dismissed additional felony counts of uttering and publishing, embezzlement by a public official, and embezzlement or diversion of taxes or public moneys by a public official.
During the plea hearing on Monday, Rickman testified that he forged village officials' names on village checks and cashed the checks. The incidents occurred between March 1 and May 29 of last year.
According to the police report in the case, Rickman moved to Alpha from Oregon in September 2011. The village of Alpha hired Rickman to fill its vacant clerk position in February 2012.
Village officials told law enforcement officials that they believed something strange was going on in July when they noticed that Rickman's paycheck was missing from the rest of the payroll checks.
After obtaining bank statements, village officials discovered that several checks made out to Rickman contained their forged signatures.
A certified public accountant determined that the total amount of loss to the village was $3,387.36.
Rickman was placed on unpaid administrative leave in August. He was charged with criminal offenses in November.
He is represented by attorney Geoffrey Lawrence of Crystal Falls.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.