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

Date: November 3, 2003

Coles Enters Guilty Pleas on Two Felony Charges

(Boise) - Former Boise mayor H. Brent Coles has entered pleas of guilty to two felony charges, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said.

Coles pleaded guilty to Count 1 and Count 4 of a five-count indictment returned by an Ada County Grand Jury on May 6, 2003.

Count 1 of the indictment charged Coles with presenting a fraudulent account or voucher, in violation of Idaho Code § 18-2706. The voucher sought reimbursement from the City of Boise, in the amount of $580, for tickets to a Broadway play purchased for Coles by the United States Conference of Mayors.

Count 4 charged Coles with misuse of public money by officers in violation of Idaho Code §18-5701. The indictment alleged that public moneys of the City of Boise were appropriated, without the authority of law, for airfare from New York City to Rochester, New York for Coles and his former chief of staff, Gary Lyman, and for lodging, meals and car rental associated with that November 1999 trip.

The State has dismissed the remaining 3 counts of the indictment. Those counts charged Coles with misuse of public money by officers in violation of Idaho Code §18-5701. Under terms of the plea agreement, the state may recommend up to 3 years in prison. The plea agreement states that Coles has made restitution to the City of Boise for all of the money the indictment charged him with misusing.

Appearing before District Judge Thomas Neville, Coles entered "Alford" pleas to the two counts. An Alford plea allows a defendant to plead guilty to take advantage of a plea agreement while asserting that he is actually innocent. Courts treat Alford pleas the same as any other guilty pleas. The Idaho Court of Appeals, in State of Idaho v. Howry, described an Alford plea as follows:

"Although an Alford plea allows a defendant to plead guilty amid assertions of innocence, it does not require a court to accept those assertions. The sentencing court may, of necessity, consider a broad range of information, including the evidence of the crime, the defendant's criminal history and the demeanor of the defendant, including the presence or absence of remorse."

Judge Neville ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set a sentencing hearing for January 9, 2004.

The case was referred to the Attorney General for investigation and prosecution by Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Bower.

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