Castaneda Sentenced, No Jail Time

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Former probation chief Robert "Rocky" Castaneda was sentenced last week in Gila County Superior Court, and despite the recommendation of Gila County Attorney Jim Hazel, won't be spending any time in jail.

In sentencing Castaneda, visiting Judge Michael C. Nelson said he felt the defendant had already been punished appropriately, and disregarded Hazel's recommendation.

A 16-year county employee, Castaneda resigned in the fall of 1999, amid allegations of misusing public funds. Those allegations stem from the investigation into Castaneda's use of a county credit card the previous summer.

Jerry DeRose, the county attorney at the time, said the probation chief had used the credit card to supplement a gambling problem.

Discrepancies were first discovered in July of 1999, when the county finance department was wrapping up its year-end figures. That year-end audit was continually delayed due to missing reports from Castaneda and a few other employees. Repeated attempts to collect the missing reports failed, and by October, the county called in the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Inspections and Control Unit to investigate. During that investigation, the probation chief resigned his $57,000-a-year job with the county.

In accepting Castaneda's plea agreement, Judge Nelson ordered the defendant to pay $17,241.29 in restitution to the county. He was also ordered to perform 500 hours of community service.

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