Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

Chief Probation Officer Tom Crowell's professional fate now lies in the hands of Del Norte Superior Court Judge William Follett.

Follett, who holds the authority for appointing or removing chief probation officers, will launch an independent investigation once an agreement in Crowell's criminal case is finalized April 30.

"The reason (for the delay) is I don't have access to anything, and a lot of what I know is what I read in the paper," said Follett. "I need to have some information before I make a decision."

There is no deadline for Follett's decision.

Crowell pleaded no contest to a single count of theft by embezzlement as part of a plea deal with the state Attorney General's Office that also included a delayed entry of judgment.

The deal offers Crowell the opportunity for a clean slate if he attends gambling addiction counseling, steers clear of gambling establishments for two years and pays a $661 fine.

The judgment does not mean that Crowell has been convicted. Instead, it offers a pseudo-probation term that, if successfully completed, removes any record of his arrest, though it will appear in any background checks related to a peace officer position.

Crowell was accused of stealing $400, twice, from the bank account of the Law Enforcement Administrators of Del Norte County last September.

LEADN is composed of all the local law enforcement agencies, from parks to Pelican Bay State Prison. It helps provide training to officers and devises plans to improve service to the community. Crowell was vice-president of the association at the time.

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