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10:03 AM Tue, Dec. 18th

Woman pleads guilty to theft of court funds

A former Mohave County Superior Court clerk has pleaded guilty to theft, a Class 2 felony.

Cynthia Kay Peterkin, 47, stole $117,000 in county money while working in Bullhead City, Deputy County Attorney Jace Zack said.

Zack said about half the money was recovered in uncashed checks from Peterkin's house and vehicle, along with airline tickets to New York.

Peterkin must repay $66,000 under the terms of the plea deal.

She pleaded guilty in Superior Court Friday will be sentenced at 9 a.m.

March 19.

Peterkin's case is being presided over by visiting La Paz County Judge Michael Burke after each of Mohave County's Superior Court judges recused themselves from the case because of conflict of interest.

Zack said the sentencing range in the plea agreement is probation to 12 and a half years in prison.

Peterkin was originally charged with four theft counts.

Had she been convicted on all charges, she faced up to 38 years and eight months in prison.

She worked for the county in Bullhead City for about a year before she was fired April 25.

Peterkin was indicted May 1 and a felony warrant for her arrest was issued.

She fled her Mohave Valley home before officers arrived and turned herself in at the sheriff's office in Kingman the next day.

Money that Peterkin handled daily came from fees paid for marriage licenses, divorce proceedings, passports or other legal documents.

Fees collected each day ranged from $80 to several thousand dollars.

An investigation showed that Peterkin made only one bank deposit of court funds during the months of January, February and March.

Going by the name of Cynthia Casebeer, Peterkin was convicted of aggravated theft and served several months in an Austin, Texas, prison in 1985 for writing stolen checks totaling between $750 and $20,000 in May 1984.