Convicted Ada Probation Officer Sentenced

The following report was filed as a comment on the proceedings of former Ada County Probation Officer Austin Plew. Plew was charged with taking money from the private for-profit probation agency. Plew was sentenced in 4th District Court Wednesday. The author is obviously a defense attorney.

By “Justica”
It was one of the MOST disappointing sentencings I’ve ever attended. I’ve had clients steal from employers and judges told them their betrayal of trust was the sinc qua non for putting them in prison or making them serve 180 days in jail – but THIS defendant was asked if part of the $4,500 (out of an estimated $9,000) restitution was given him as a loan from family members.

Plew answered that as soon as his conduct was discovered, he quickly obtained a different job (because he has a degree and is educated) and with the addition of his tax refund, he alone came up with half the restitution. This seemed to weigh heavily on the Court’s mind (because Judge McLaughlin mentioned it 3-4 times) even though the Prosecutor and Defense had agreed on a 2+3 sentence, the Court proved that MONEY TALKS! The Court gave him 90 days jail, with all options, asked Plew to tell the Court how much money he could afford to pay the victim(s), to make sure that the Court wasn’t setting Plew up to fail.

The court never identified Nancy Cladis and her Ada County Misdemeanor Probation Services as the victim.

The SINGLE retributive, general deterrent thing the Court DID do “because this is different,” was to deny Plew a withheld judgement, although the Court assured him that at the end of his 5 yr. probation he could come back and have his case reduced to a misdemeanor! Plew victimized the most vulnerable citizens in our community, but in the end . . . MONEY TALKS!

What about the Victim’s Rights Amendment to the Idaho Constitution? There was not a single misdemeanor probationer in the courtroom – THEY ARE THE VICTIMS!! Why didn’t the Canyon County Prosecutor–Eric Thomson–invite A SINGLE PROBATIONER to testify? IT WAS THEIR MONEY he stole! Plew was a defacto “officer of the court!!” We read about folks going to prison for their first time theft from employers but PLEW WAS ALLOWED TO WALK OUT OF THE COURTROOM! He did however say that he had met God! However what about the Biblical teaching “do unto these the least my brethern?!” TRAVESTY!

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Did anyone really think a person in the system would be held to the same standard as someone outside the system? If this had been one of good ole Austin’s probationers there would have been no back door shenanigans like this allowed. It is a shame that the integrity of the whole system is let down by the actions of this judge, folks should remember this the next time this particular judge comes up for election

  2. Well well, how pathetic but more than I expected. How come we’re not milking him for money the way the misdemeaner office did us. This pathetic person was threatening to put me away for 180 days for a probation violation. He walks out of court virtually untouched. For some reason the judge gave him way less than the attorneys agreed on. And they wonder wy people have no respect for or trust in the legal system. Pretty amazing, one theif steeling from another.

  3. Agree totally!
    Mar 22, 2012, 9:06 pm

    Rick, I absolutely agree with you. This is downright shameful. And Austin claimed to have “found God”, but he was attending church every weekend while he was committing these crimes, so I wonder if this was simply a weapon in his defense. Nobody is above the law, and hopefully everybody else who is profiting from others’ misery will have their time in court, including Nancy herself. Come October justice will hopefully be served and her hunger for money will come to an end and this business will have the oversight that is so desperately needed, for those honest employees, and moreso, for the individual’s in the system who have been victimized by not only Mr Plew but Ms Cladis as well.

  4. Totally, there is one problem that everyone keeps over looking….come october or when ever it is, the fox (sheriff) will be in charge of the hen house (probation) the oversite that everyone keeps hoping for will not happen in that situation… Unfortunatly some think this will make things better, I hope they are right and I am wrong, but I really dont see how letting LE run probation makes things better. I seriously doubt that Rainey will lower fees, and anyone who has ever dealt with a deputy knows the intimidation wont slow if anything it will intensify.

    I have tried to get answers fron the commissioners as to how this is going to be organized, but I get no responce I doubt if anyone working in probation now will be hired by the sheriff we will have to wait and see about that point though.

  5. Rick:”…folks should remember this the next time this particular judge comes up for election.”

    I have wondered about this issue every time I go to vote. Nothing is ever published about the judges on the ballot, unlike the short briefs the paper puts out on other candidates for public office. To me, this means more of the typical Idaho secrecy in public affairs.
    If we are to vote on judges, we need to see lists of their decisions–let’s say since the previous election–and anything else about dereliction of duty, falling asleep on the bench, or whatever negatives are reportable.

    Asking voters to vote on mere names is both ridiculous and also detrimental to public participation in politics.

    But what am I saying? It’s only Idaho.

  6. Laughing Out Loud
    Mar 23, 2012, 9:33 pm

    What is it with probation and parole employees? This guy Austin must think he is above the law. Apparently so does the republican Ada County Commissioner candidate David Case. Case is currently employed by the IDOC Parole Board as a parole hearing officer. This is a classified state job. According to statute, 67-5311, classified employees are forbidden to run for partisan public office while employed by the state. Mr. Case is required to first quit his job then file to run for office. It is a misdemeanor to do otherwise. So now what?

  7. morningglory
    Mar 23, 2012, 11:54 pm

    Let’s hope Dave Case has it covered because we sure need him.

  8. Laughing,
    Mr Case has already run for and is currently holding an elected position with ACHD. I would assume that since he has been in that position for at least 2 years that the provisions of 67-5311 do not apply to his position as a state employee. I do not know this to be fact I am just guessing. I wouldn’t think that Olivia Craven would stand for someone under her to blatantly break the law.

  9. davis, no one is going to compile that info for you, as a concerned citizen it’s your responsibility to find those issues yourself. Not everone gets spoon fed.

  10. Curt Sigler
    Mar 28, 2012, 4:37 pm

    REALLY? I see lots of people bitching about this Defendant and what this Judge did but nothing about the real crimes being committed according to this story. I have to assume it is correct and not the mad ravings of a defense attorney that was posted as a story. Private For-Profit Probation, and the County Attorney and Defense Attorney were conspiring to help this PRIVATE FOR PROFIT AGENCY for 3 years. So the County Attorney is now the Agent for the private Probation? I hate to tell you all this I would never have served one day in jail. Well I don’t steal but if I had this would have went a whole other way!

    Disgusted so many people want to limit Juries and Judges but want to empower the Damn Criminals in the system. The day you take a Judges discretion out of sentencing is the day you get the world’s highest per capita in prison. OH WAIT WE ALREADY HOLD THAT TITLE OVER MINIMUM MANDATORY POT LAWS!!! AND NO VICTIMS!!!

    Thank God in Heaven I don’t live in Idaho!

  11. Im confused, he steals aprox 10K the prosecutor and defense agree on a 2+3 sentence he gets 90 days work release and has to pay back $4500 and you think thats a decent sentence? He was a member of LE he should be held to a higher standard.

  12. I wasn’t there, but I’m guessing they agreed on 2+3 suspended for probation, probably five years long. A first non-violent felony typically ends up with probation.

    “Should be”s don’t matter unless you want judges to be constrained by mandatory minimum sentences, and those are going to give prosecutors more power than they need.

  13. the 2+3 wasnt suspended… I wasnt there either but I read the file.

  14. Look at the second to the last entry on ISTARS. Order suspending sentence. The SENTENCE is the 2+3.

    Sixth to last says 5 years of probation.

    In Idaho you get probation if there is a suspended sentence, or a withheld judgment. He did not get the latter.

  15. You are right that’s what happened…. but not what the prosecutor and the defense had agreed on….read the file and look at the deal sheet in it. The judge decided to throw out the deal that had been agreed too that’s my point.
    It’s still ridiculous to me that someone steals nearly 10k, has to payback 4500 and gets probation, if he had not been in LE he would be doing the 2+3 like was agreed to. This guy got as close to a free pass as he could have gotten.

  16. The “deal” has been misreported by the media, I believe. The “deal” is a cap on what the state can ask for. The defense can ask for less, and I’m sure that is what happened. The audio of the plea hearing and/or sentencing hearing will have the deal stated in court on the record. My guess is also that the prosecutor agreed to the probation. It’s the guy’s first felony and you can’t pay restitution in prison.

    Judges ignore plea deals all the time. Sometimes they are more harsh, sometimes more lenient.

  17. Mik, go to the court house and read the file….like I did….the media might have misrepresented it, that I don,t know about but I do know the deal was for 2 + 3 no mention of a suspended and 90 days in work release to be done at a time convient to him… the sentencing was sickening….

  18. It’s too bad that there are double standards in positions of authority. My brother and I recently made a probation officer site ourselves that teaches people, who are serious about becoming probation officers, how to go about doing so, and I am looking to get it some exposure [our new site is I don’t know if it would be suitable for you to place a link to our site on yours, but we would be happy to do the same for you and help each other out. Let me know if this seems like something you would be interested in doing and keep up the good work on your site. Thanks!

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