Matt King accepted a plea deal last week that will force him to pay a $100 fine for stealing from a local slaughterhouse where he worked as a state meat inspector.
King’s no contest plea comes six months he first appeared in court to face a misdemeanor charge of petit larceny stemming from allegations that he stole a box of gloves from Bear Trap Custom Processing in Milton.
As part of the agreement, prosecutors said they will not use the new conviction against King’s deferred sentence in the Milton Broncos embezzlement case, in which he received a yearlong probation sentence that will be expunged from his record if he avoids further legal trouble.
King, who appeared in court beside his attorney, Phil Jarvis, said little during the proceeding but acknowledged that a jury could have found him guilty if jurors believed the veracity of the state’s evidence: namely, security camera footage showing King’s crime.
Milton police began their investigation following a report from Bear Trap’s owners, who became suspicious of King after two of their employees visited his deer cutting operation and saw “the exact same supplies” there as at the slaughterhouse. King was the primary meat inspector for the operation, which is required to provide an office space for these state employees.
The security footage, which prosecutors played during a hearing in March, showed King take a box of gloves and attempt to hide them in a pair of boots. When they didn’t fit, he threw the gloves over his shoulder, draped a jacket on top of them and walked out of the facility. Attorneys in the case have estimated the boxes of gloves cost about $20.
Explaining why the state would pursue a charge over that relatively small dollar amount during a hearing in March, deputy state’s attorney Susan Hardin pointed to the sentence in King’s recent embezzlement conviction – King pleaded guilty in that case three days before his arraignment on the new charge – and said the state was “adamant” that he take responsibility in this case.
King and his lawyer originally fought the petit larceny charge, asking a judge to dismiss the case because he claimed the slaughterhouse’s owners had an arrangement in which he could take items and invoice them. He said he planned to pay back the victims for the gloves.
But Jean Kleptz, co-owner of the slaughterhouse, testified she and her husband maintained no such agreement with King. After last week’s hearing, she told the Independent she was relieved the case had reached a conclusion but said the ordeal could have been avoided if King was initially honest when confronted with the allegations.
“Why he couldn’t have done this months ago? Beyond me,” she said.