Court clerk charged with four counts of theft

A former Mohave County Superior Court clerk pleaded innocent Thursday to stealing more than $50,000 from the courts.

Cynthia Kay Peterkin, who turned herself to authorities Wednesday night, was arraigned in Superior Court in Kingman on four counts of theft.

A Mohave County grand jury indicted her on the theft charges May 1 and a felony warrant was issued, Chief Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jace Zack said.

Peterkin fled before investigators arrived at her Mohave Valley home Tuesday.

She turned herself in at the sheriff's office in Kingman the next day.

On Thursday Michael Burke, a visiting Superior Court judge from La Paz County, reduced Peterkin's bond to $10,000 and set her next hearing for June 2.

Zack wanted bond kept at $27,000 bond, asking Burke to consider Peterkin's flight from officers, the discovery of plane tickets to New York in her house and her lying on her application about prior convictions.

Zack also said the $50,000 in cash taken from the courts has not been recovered.

In requesting reduced bond, Deputy Public Defender Matt Springer said Peterkin has lived in Mohave County 13 years and has two children and ties to the community and was not a high risk for fleeing.

To avoid conflict of interest, presiding Mohave County Judge Robert Moon assigned the case to Burke because Peterkin worked for Superior Court.

Peterkin, 46, had been the Bullhead City clerk for Superior Court for about a year when she was fired April 25.

The indictment accuses Peterkin of taking $3,000 or more in cash or checks during each of the first three months of this year.

The fourth count of theft charges Peterkin with stealing $25,000 or more in cash or checks from June 2002 until the day she was fired last month.

The first three counts of theft are Class 3 felonies, punishable by up to eight years, nine months in prison on each charge.

The fourth count is a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to 12 years, six months years in prison.

Peterkin has a conviction in Texas, which could increase prison time.

A judge usually weighs aggravating or mitigating factors, such as prior convictions, in determining sentences and whether they would be concurrent or consecutive.

Clerks at Superior Court satellite office in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City usually fax records to the Kingman office of funds collected and deposited in banks each day.

Fees collected for marriage licenses, divorce filings, passports or other legal documents range from $80 to several thousand dollars.

A quarterly review led to calls to a bank, which showed deposits not matching receipts faxed from the Bullhead City court office.

The investigation showed only one deposit made for January, February and March.

Another clerk who worked in Bullhead City on Peterkin's day off made that deposit, Mohave County Clerk of the Court Virlynn Tinnell said.

Peterkin worked for several private attorneys in Bullhead City before working at the Superior Court, according to investigators.

Peterkin, going by the name of Cynthia Casebeer, was convicted and served several months in prison in 1985 in Austin, Texas, for aggravated theft, according to the Texas Department of Corrections.

Peterkin also received eight years probation for writing stolen checks of $750 to $20,000 in May 1984.