Registered sex offender takes plea agreement
A lifetime registered sex offender pleaded guilty to exploiting a vulnerable adult after accepting a plea agreement that includes $60,000 restitution, a reduced charge and five years supervised probation during a pretrial conference Tuesday afternoon in Dickinson.
"I'm somewhat reluctant to accept this but I'm going to accept it anyway because the victim and the conservator are in agreement with it," Southwest District Judge William Herauf said during the conference at the Stark County Courthouse.
Gregory Goetz, 47, whose last known address was Richardton, was appointed as his estranged wife's conservator and was accused of obtaining or using money held in a conservatorship, according to a previous Press article.
After his estranged wife was deemed unfit to take care of financial matters alone, Goetz was put in charge of about $270,000 of her money in August 2009, said Pat Helfrich, special agent of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation during a December hearing.
The money reportedly came from a legal settlement in Alaska and was put into a bank account and then removed, Helfrich said, according to a previous Press article.
"... the money had been taken out in cash and it was put in a safe," Helfrich said. "According to the report from (Goetz's wife), the bank strongly suggested not doing so, but she said that Greg insisted."
After some of the money was reportedly spent on multiple items, including vehicles, dental work and a trip to Las Vegas, about $41,000 was left, Helfrich said during the December hearing, according to a previous Press article.
Helfrich also said at that time that Goetz also was accused of giving some of the money to his girlfriend and his ex-wife.
After Goetz's estranged wife contacted authorities about the spending, a criminal complaint was filed. The complaint sited the use of the money was unrelated to Goetz's wife's well-being, according to a previous Press article.
Hettinger County State's Attorney James Gion said during Tuesday's proceedings that the $60,000 restitution ordered is in addition to the approximate $40,000 cash that has been transferred to the conservatorship along with a pickup, a motorcycle, a trailer and a house in New Leipzig.
Gion said the victim approved the plea agreement but requested a no contact order be added.
Goetz cannot have contact with the victim or the conservator.
"We can only go for those five years," Gion said.
In acceptance of a guilty plea agreement, Goetz's charge was reduced from a Class A felony to a Class C felony, Gion said.
If Goetz violates his probation, he could face up to the full five years in jail and a $5,000 fine, Herauf said.
A woman who answered the phone at Goetz's Richardton residence said Goetz had no comment.