Ada County Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre has maintained a pretty low profile after his reelection campaign, but not low enough to escape some pot shots from former Commissioner Sharon Ullman and the BOISE WEEKLY.
The WEEKLY ran a piece called “Taxing The Public Trust” which was pretty much a rehash of Yzaguirre’s financial problems with the Idaho Tax Commission, Fish & Game and Lottery Commission in connection with his troubled convenience store, “Justos” in Eagle.
He was mayor of Eagle at the time of the alleged offenses and in a nutshell he admitted diverting taxes and fees owed to those state agencies in an attempt to keep his business afloat. Liens were filed on his property and he made arrangements to repay the agencies following the sale of the store and refinancing his home.
He was subsequently elected and then reelected to the Ada Commission post despite pleas from some quarters–including an editorial in the IDAHO STATESMAN–for his resignation.
Which brings us to the present. The news and underlying complaint from Ullman and crew is the lack of prosecution by Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower–at any point over the past three years. She took her complaint to the Ada sheriff who has an obvious conflict of interest as well as Bower. Both depend on budget approval from the commissioners and Bower is their legal counsel.
She ended up with an investigator from the Idaho State Police and the results will go to the Gem County prosecutor for review and a decision regarding prosecution.
One item stands out as being particularly damning for Yzaguirre if true. According to the WEEKLY, during the time-frame in which Yzaguirre was failing to pay the state, public records show he donated a total of $918 to various political organizations and election campaigns, including his own run for office and that of Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.
The GUARDIAN wonders why all parties have waited so long to file complaints, investigate, and prosecute–or not prosecute. We figure the bottomline will be a decision that agencies involved chose to handle the financial matters through civil procedures in an effort to get the state’s money and since the money has been recovered they will ignore any crimes which may or may not have been committed.
We will keep you posted regardless of the results.
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Sep 8, 2005, 2:35 pm
Just when I thought that whole mess had been shoved under the rug, you brought it up. Thanks. I wrote a letter to the Statesman before the last election in which I angrily protested Yzaguirre’s running for office after his theft of public property. Yet people stood up for him. At 8:00 am the morning my letter was published I received a phone call from Judy Peavy-Derr. She objected to my criticism of her statement that Yzaguirre’s financial problems were a “private matter.” She told me she was quoted out of context. What a bunch of bull. I am thrilled that legal action is still being pursued.
Like I told Comm.Peavy-Derr – if in my employment as an escrow officer I had “borrowed” from my customers funds I would not only lose my job, I would have been sent to jail, whether or not I paid it back. Does anybody in public office understand the term “fiduciary responsibility?”
Sep 12, 2005, 6:28 pm
I tried to get this out when I ran against him in Nov 04-I received over 70000 votes but lost! Its hard to beat an “R”—-or it used to be!
Sep 29, 2005, 12:24 am
I take great offense to your statement about former Commissioner Sharon Ullman taking “pot shots” at the self-admitted felon, Rick Yzaguirre. You make it sound as though she has some sort of personal vendetta. Since they are not in the same district and, to my knowledge, have never worked/served together, I would say that Ms. Ullman is doing the taxpayers a tremendous favor in attempting to get local law enforcement to hold Yzaguirre accountable for his blatant violations of the law (not to mention his abuse of office and violation of public trust). Yzaguirre, and any other elected official/public employee who commits crimes, should be prosecuted with the same zeal as that afforded to Boise’s former Mayor, Brent Coles. (Who, by the way, was convicted after “diverting” less than $1,000.00 of taxpayer dollars wherein Yzaguirre ADMITTED to “diverting” over $60,000.00!)
Your article stating that “[h]e was mayor of Eagle at the time of the alleged offenses” seems to be the norm as far as journalism goes here in Idaho when it comes to Yzaguirre (i.e., handling him with kid gloves). He admitted (in writing in the Idaho Statesman and in several public statements) to converting state sales tax money, lottery funds, and fish & game monies for his personal use. In addition, your statement that those taxes and fees were “owed to” state agencies helps to minimize Yzaguirre’s crimes. According to Idaho State law, those monies are collected for, not owed to, state agencies: “[a]ll [sales tax] moneys collected by retailers…shall, immediately upon collection, be state money and every such retailer shall hold such money for the state of Idaho and for payment to the state tax commission” and “[e]very officer charged with the receipt, safe keeping or disbursement of public moneys who neglects or fails to keep and pay over the same in the manner prescribed by law, is guilty of felony.” The law goes on to state that any “officer of this state” (which Yzaguirre was – as Mayor) who “appropriates” public moneys “to his own use,” or “having the possession or control of any public money, makes a profit out of” the misappropriation of public moneys, or “willfully refuses or omits to pay over, any public moneys,” is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years, and is disqualified from holding any office in this state.”
In other words, doing ANYTHING with those monies other than turning them over to the agencies they belong to is a FELONY and Yzaguirre should be held accountable.