Former Drew County Circuit Clerk Pat Montgomery pleaded guilty this morning to two misdemeanors in connection with a 2012 investigation into the circuit clerk’s office.

Montgomery pleaded guilty to abuse of office and falsifying business records.

One of the components of abuse of office is having the purpose of benefiting one’s self in a pecuniary fashion by not performing the duties of the office, according to 10th Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen.

“She is alleged to have substituted unreceipted filing fee checks in her office for cash and then having taken the cash — a total of approximately $18,000 minus whatever expenses she personally incurred for the office,” Deen said.

As part of the plea agreement, Montgomery was required to renounce her office, which she did, Deen said. She initially took a leave of absence then did not take office in January.

Additionally, she received a one-year suspended sentence and agreed to pay Drew County a yet-to-be-determined amount of restitution. A restitution hearing will be held at a later date.

Restitution to the state Legislative Audit for investigation expenses will be determined by the court.

Special Judge John Langston, a retired circuit court judge from Pulaski County, presided over the hearing after all of the 10th Judicial District Circuit Court judges recused.

Montgomery made a statement on her Facebook page this morning. It is reprinted here with her permission:

I took a plea to misdemeanors this morning in court. I apologize to the citizens, my husband, family, and friends if I have caused any embarrassment. I never meant to do anything wrong. I am so proud to have been the circuit clerk and the way the office operated. It was an honor to be your circuit clerk and to represent Drew County. I made mistakes and have taken full responsibility. I ask for prayers as I move to a new chapter in my life. I am so blessed to have such a loving family and friends that have stood with me. God bless you and I love you! I couldn’t make it without you.