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Archive for Thursday, May 8, 2003

County probation officer charged with giving refuge to wanted felon

May 8, 2003

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A Douglas County probation officer gave refuge to a wanted felon earlier this year, prosecutors say.

Michael J. Pritchard, 63, was charged May 2 with aiding a felon and illegally disclosing information about a warrant. At the time of the alleged offenses, he worked for the county's Community Corrections department as an intensive-supervision probation officer.

The job of a probation officer is twofold: to enforce the court's terms of probation -- for example, by testing offenders for drugs and alcohol -- and to help offenders become productive members of society.

Ron Stegall, who supervises the county's probation officers, said he couldn't discuss details of Pritchard's case. But Stegall said he couldn't think of any circumstances under which it would be appropriate for an offender to stay at an officer's home.

"Certainly we want to help probationers, but we help them in terms of meeting the kinds of conditions the court has asked them to meet," Stegall said.

The felon, whose name wasn't available Wednesday, allegedly stayed at Pritchard's home in the 3500 block of West Seventh Court sometime between Feb. 1 and April 14, according to a police report.

Stegall said Pritchard's last day was April 24. That was the same day police said they finished their investigation and forwarded it to Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney for review.

Stegall would not say Wednesday whether Pritchard was fired or left the job voluntarily. But Stegall said he held officers to high standards.

"We expect them to be people of complete integrity, and we do have very clear guidelines for how they're to conduct business within their job," he said.

Pritchard couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment. He's scheduled to appear in court June 9.

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