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Pinocci Pleads No Contest To Misdemeanor, Felonies Dropped

Randy Pinocci is off the hook for a couple of felony charges in Cascade County — at least for now — but he’s out $200.

As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, Pinocci pled no contest to a disorderly conduct misdemeanor with a $100 fine, and he admits there was probable cause to charge him for the felonies.

Pinocci, a Montana Public Service commissioner, is a Republican running to be lieutenant governor as part of Tanner Smith’s longshot bid for governor.

Pinocci was not required to enter any guilty pleas as part of the agreement and continues to maintain his innocence, his lawyer Mark Parker said Friday.

“He is still adamant he didn’t do anything wrong,” Parker said.

The deferred prosecution agreement also comes with a $100 fee. It means Pinocci needs to obey the law for six months or risk being recharged with the two witness tampering felonies.

The charges were connected to a dispute Pinocci had last summer with the brother of a tenant of his. He was accused of challenging the man to a fight and later accused of trying to force witnesses to disavow testimony.

In January, however, Parker said he hoped the Cascade County Attorney’s Office would take another look at the charges given the evidence; he considered the case a head-scratcher.

Parker said Friday, April 12, he was pleased the prosecution did so.

“I’m proud of the county attorney for taking a fresh look at this,” Parker said. “Sometimes, they get stuck, and they won’t take another look. And in this case, they took another look, and by God, that’s what they have to do sometimes.”

Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki said a judge agreed this week to the terms of the agreement.

He also confirmed his office faces political pressure when dealing with high-profile candidates such as Pinocci.

Racki said he receives phone calls from people lobbying for and against them — and wanting him to consider matters that aren’t relevant to the case.

But he said prosecutors must treat the more prominent suspects the same way they would treat an ordinary citizen.

“You don’t want to go for blood or go for broke because it’s a high-profile case,” Racki said.

At the same time, he said, prosecutors can’t just sweep an incident under the rug.

“You want to treat them just like you would any citizen off the street who did the same thing,” Racki said. “And that’s what we did in this case.”

For instance, he said Pinocci has no criminal history, and the misdemeanor citation appeared to be out of character, which he said dictates the way his office approached the agreement.

The felonies dismissed as part of the agreement come with maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000 or both.

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