Former tax assessor pleaded guilty

Former Tax Assessor Richard Cole has pleaded guilty to 2 counts of malfeasance in office.

Cole resigned last year after an audit revealed mishandling of office finances that outraged many in the community.

The District Attorney concluded only two of the problems identified in the audit rose to the level of criminal wrongdoing and for those he was indicted: using the office credit card for $48,000 in personal expenses and writing a check for an expense that was not office related.

First Assistant D.A. Cynthia Killingsworth says by pleading to the crimes as charged Cole is taking responsibility for what he did.

"The charge that he has pled guilty to is malfeasance in office. It carries zero to five years per count with or without hard labor and up to a five thousand dollar fine, either or both," Killingsworth said.

Neither Cole or his attorney had any comment.  Cole has paid back the money and will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Friday December 9, 2011.

Cole is allowed to remain free on property bond.

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