For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: February 14, 2003

Attorney General Files Charge in Boise Spending Investigation

(Boise) - The Office of the Attorney General filed a criminal complaint in Fourth District Court today, charging Boise Mayor Brent Coles with misdemeanor violations of Idaho Code § 18-1356(2).

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said the charge was filed today because of a looming statute of limitations deadline. Under Idaho's statute of limitations, misdemeanor crimes cannot be prosecuted unless charges are filed within one year of the date the crime occurred.

"The complaint filed today charges that a trip taken by Mayor Coles and his wife to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games was paid for by Blue Cross," Attorney General Wasden said. "It was filed today in order to preserve the statute of limitations.

"Today's action is not the conclusion of my office's investigation which is being conducted at the request of the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney," Attorney General Wasden added. "I am not going to speculate on when the investigation will be completed, or when we will be able to make a decision as to whether to file other charges. I know this investigation is important to the people of the City of Boise, and my Criminal Law Division is working hard to complete the investigation and review quickly, fairly, thoroughly and accurately."

The Attorney General's complaint alleges that Coles violated Idaho Code § 18-1356(2), which provides:

"No public servant having any discretionary function to perform in connection with contracts, purchases, payments, claims or other pecuniary transactions of the government shall solicit, accept or agree to accept any pecuniary benefit from any person known to be interested in or likely to become interested in any such contract, purchase, payment, claim or transaction."

The maximum penalties for violations, contained in Idaho Code § 18-1660, are 1 year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. The statute also provides that:

"any person who violates the provisions of this chapter may be required to forfeit his office and may be ordered to make restitution of any benefit received by him to the governmental entity from which it was obtained."

The complaint charges two counts, both of which are nearly identical, with the exception that count two involves Mayor Coles' actions on behalf of a member of his household. Count one reads:

That the Defendant, H. BRENT COLES, on or about or between the 14th and 18th days of February, 2002, in the County of Ada, State of Idaho, while being a public servant in his capacity as Mayor of the City of Boise, and while having one or more discretionary functions to perform in connection with contracts entered into by the City of Boise, did accept a pecuniary benefit from a person or persons known by him to be interested in, or likely to become interested in, such contracts, by accepting air travel for himself from Boise to Salt Lake City, hotel accommodations, admission to events at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and air travel from Salt Lake City to Boise, all of which were provided or paid for by Blue Cross, a corporation that was known by him to have then contracted to provide dental insurance coverage to the City of Boise, and that was known by him to be interested in, or likely to become interested in, securing future contracts with the City of Boise for providing medical insurance and dental insurance.

"As in any criminal case, the complaint is only an allegation. All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty," Attorney General Wasden said. "Criminal charges require the state to provide evidence that satisfies the most rigorous burden of proof - proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

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