A retired West Valley police captain pleaded guilty to a theft charge and agreed Tuesday to repay $2,700 missing from the drug task force he once headed.

James M. Stroud, 51, agreed to the plea agreement in 3rd District Court that puts him under court supervision for nine months.Stroud's guilty plea will be held in abeyance by Judge Robert K. Hilder for nine months. If Stroud stays out of trouble, the charge will be withdrawn, according to defense attorney Ron Yengich.

Stroud headed the Metro Drug Task Force, a multiagency unit formed to fight drug crimes in Salt Lake County for one year, until November 1996. He retired in January 1997 following an internal investigation into the unit initiated by West Valley Police Chief Dennis Nordfelt.

Stroud was charged with two counts of theft, one a second-degree felony and one a class A misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty to a reduced third-degree felony count and the second charge was dismissed.

According to the criminal charges filed in November, Stroud reported using $2,000 in task force grant money to run a storefront sting operation for a Park City investigation.

He also reported using $2,500 to reimburse West Valley City for supplies and equipment used there during another sting operation, according to the court documents.

But the investigation found no Park City sting operation ever occurred and no funds were used to support one. And, other task force officers reported using other funds for the West Valley City investigation rather than the funds Stroud reported allocating.