Tester to pay club or go to jail

The former treasurer of the Mohave Sportsman's Club, who pleaded guilty in April to one count of theft, was sentenced Tuesday.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss sentenced Walter Lloyd Tester to six months in jail with the sentence suspended under a plea agreement reached in April.

Tester pleaded guilty April 30 to one count of theft on an Alford plea.

Tester originally was charged with theft, forgery and fraudulent schemes and artifices, all felonies.

An Alford plea is when a defendant pleads guilty to a charge without admitting to have committed the crime.

Weiss also ordered Tester to pay more than $35,000 in restitution with $5,000 paid up front back to the club.

The money stolen was from dues, range fees and grants the club collected, Deputy Mohave County Attorney Lee Jantzen said.

Under the plea agreement, if Tester makes the payments within 18 months, the six-month jail sentence would be suspended, Jantzen said.

Tester who is not being held in custody also received five years of probation.

Tester's co-defendant and wife, Joan Tester, who served as the club's president, died in August.

She had been charged with felony theft and fraudulent schemes and artifices.

The Testers, who held their posts at the club for about two and a half years, were charged with stealing approximately $29,000 from the club.

The theft occurred between May 1999 and March 26, 2002, court records show.

According to the court records, Walter Tester provided incorrect treasury reports to the club.

The couple resigned from their positions in April just days after a criminal complaint was filed against them in Kingman Justice Court.

If tried and convicted for the theft and fraudulent schemes charges, Tester could have received up to 12.5 years in prison on each charge.

The forgery charge could have netted him another one to 3.75 years in prison.

The Mohave Sportsman's Club reportedly has more than 800 members and is based at the Seven Mile Range, a 722-acre gun range on Oatman Road, used by law enforcement officers as well as the public.

The club, which has been in existence since 1936, is made up of hunters, anglers and sport enthusiasts.