Crime & Courts

City court officer pleads guilty

A Wichita municipal court collections officer pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to changing computerized court records so that bondsmen wouldn't have to pay bond forfeitures, authorities said.

The collections officer, Kaylene J. "Katie" Pottorff, 54, had worked for municipal court since 1995.

She was one of three people indicted in April 2008 by a federal grand jury in connection with conspiracy, altering criminal justice records and receiving bribes.

The indictment alleged she was paid by bail bondsmen to change court records, which allowed them to avoid paying bond forfeitures and aided in other fraudulent schemes.

Pottorff pleaded guilty to one count of impairing computerized administration of justice records, a federal felony carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors are recommending Pottorff be sentenced to 44 months in federal prison. Her sentencing date was set for Oct. 20.

Another defendant in the case, 37-year-old Alicia Bell of Wichita, pleaded guilty on Feb. 25 to bribery.

The third defendant, 43-year-old Jessie Garland, who now lives in Arkansas, is scheduled for trial Tuesday.

Bell and Garland were bonding agents and also bounty hunters.

Prosecutors allege Bell and Garland paid Pottorff to alter court records, allowing them to avoid paying bond forfeitures for defendants who didn't appear in court.

Bell and Garland are also accused of using altered lists to deceive bail bonding companies into paying fees to them for finding defendants who either were arrested by law enforcement officers or who remained at large.