Former Clay County auditor is sentenced to jail, probation

A former Clay County auditor must spend 30 days in the county jail for tampering with computer data involving nude photos of a woman that he stole from her cellphone and posted on a website, a circuit court judge ordered Wednesday.

William James Norris, 29, also received a four-year suspended sentence and was placed on five years’ probation for a felony election law violation.

Norris was charged in November 2011 with computer tampering and making a false swearing when he signed paperwork stating that he had no felony conviction on his record. He pleaded guilty in November to both criminal charges.

Norris was taken into custody following Wednesday’s hearing.

“He accepts responsibility for what he did and he accepts the court’s punishment,” his attorney, Shawn Blair, said afterward.

Norris, a Republican, was elected auditor in November 2010. When he filed for the office, he declared in a sworn statement that he was not a convicted felon. A Missouri statute says no person shall qualify as a candidate for elective office if he or she has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony.

In July 2010, prosecutors learned Norris had a felony conviction from 2006.

Norris later acknowledged to The Star that he had pleaded guilty in 2006 to a felony count of aggravated stalking in Grundy County, Mo. Norris said he received a suspended sentence and was placed on probation for five years.

Prosecutors said Norris was charged in February 2005 with felony aggravated stalking and misdemeanor violation of a protection order. He pleaded to the two charges in 2006. The probation ended on July 14, 2011. Norris was still on probation for the guilty plea when he filled out the candidate paperwork to run for Clay County auditor.

Prosecutors also charged him with a misdemeanor count of tampering with computer data involving the nude photos.

During his campaign for county auditor, Norris said that he was a graduate of William Jewell College. But school officials said they had no record that he graduated.

Investigators obtained Norris’ college transcript, which showed that he took four classes and failed two.