A prominent New Brunswick politician has been sentenced to house arrest and probation after pleading guilty to fraud.

Former MLA Frank Branch has spent seven years in an out of court after he was charged with defrauding the North Shore Forest Products Marketing Board of more than $5,000.

Branch, the former speaker of the New Brunswick legislature, was originally charged with six counts, including fraud and extortion, but today he changed his plea to guilty on one of the charges and the Crown stayed the other charges.

At the provincial legislature, where Branch served for more than two decades, Interim Liberal Leader Victor Boudreau sidestepped questions about the guilty plea.

"As I said, this is a private matter outside of government and I'd rather leave the comments to those who are directly involved," said Boudreau.

A joint sentencing recommendation was made by the Crown and defence for 12 months house arrest and 24 months of probation.

"It is a compromise that has been struck, not only on the criminal side, but on the civil side and it allows everybody to turn the page," said defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux.

Branch has agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution to the marketing board, where he was the manager.

With files from CTV Atlantic's David Bell