Former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak, who successfully fought back a string of state charges accusing him of mishandling county and client funds, was hit was a federal indictment today with prosecutors accusing the 44-year-old former prosecutor of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, making a false statement under oath, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
The federal indictment alleges that Bujak lied about the ownership of a Rolex watch, worth $25,000, when he declared bankruptcy. According to the indictment, Bujak concealed from trustees and creditors the sale of the watch to a jeweler and tried to hide the funds by cashing the check at a MoneyTree store rather than depositing it into his personal bank accounts or cashing it at his bank. Additionally, Bujak is accused of making false statements to investigators regarding the possession of the watch.
The charges of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets and making a false statement under oath are each punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of not more than $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, and up to five years of supervised release. Obstruction of justice is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The government is seeking forfeiture of proceeds of the unlawful activity and property involved in money laundering.
After successfully fighting back criminal charges of preparation of false evidence and computer crime, Bujak announced last August that he was anxious to get back to practice private law following the Idaho Supreme Court's decision to reinstate his license.
In July 2013, state prosecutors dropped the felony charges after two juries acquitted Bujak of other crimes—theft by unauthorized control and misuse of public funds— in separate trials.
The Idaho Center in Nampa got a big boost this morning.
City officials announced, during a specially convened session of the Nampa City Council on the floor of the Idaho Center, that Treasure Valley Ford dealers had signed a $1 million sponsorship contract.
"We're here as a city to acknowledge the contract and approve the contract," said Nampa Mayor Bob Henry.
The resolution passed the council unanimously.
The deal puts the Ford logo on the freshly named Ford Idaho Center on all FIC ads, endorsements and signage for five years, and negotiations will be concluded in the third year of the contract for an additional five-year deal for an as-yet-unannounced sum of money.
Ford's blue oval logo will also feature on all materials for Ford Idaho Center Arena, Amphitheater and Horse Park.
The Ford dealers that participated in the deal include Bob Bates Ford, Corwin Ford, Gentry Ford, Kendall Ford, Lithia Ford, Mountain Home Ford and Steve's Hometown Ford.
Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue, who has described the county lockup as an "exposed liability" to his community due to its deteriorating condition, now says he loses sleep at night envisioning criminals being released from detention because of jail overcrowding.
In this morning's Idaho Press-Tribune Donahue said the county was open to lawsuits because of the jail's condition.
"Every time my phone rings just before I go to bed or when I'm getting up, [I think] is this is Angie Leon's case?" asked Donahue, referring to the woman murdered by a man released from the county jail. "I lose sleep over that every day. It's coming, and who's go to be liable?"
Donahue also complained about understaffing, saying his department was currently down eight dispatchers because they have left for better pay in other law enforcement agencies.
"I think the public has to take the blinders off and get involved and become aware of what the issues are because that dispatch center is crucial for their public safety," he said.
The board of the Canyon County Animal Shelter in Caldwell was slated to meet this afternoon when it was expected to announce that nearly half of the shelter's staff would be laid off. The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the Executive Director of the shelter met with the board Aug. 6 to discuss a significant cash flow problem.
In addition to a major reduction in donations, the shelter had also been counting on a $30,000 operation grant that has now been delayed until early 2014.
Shelter officials said they hoped that more volunteers would step up to help keep the shelter operating.
“Until we get into a better cash position, we’re just going to have to lay some people off, utilize our volunteer force as much as possible and get our message out, and hopefully we can get some more help,” Canyon County clerk and the shelter's board chair Chris Yamamoto told the Press-Tribune.
Canyon County has lost a third of its emergency dispatch personnel and the sheriff is warning Canyon County commissioners that if they don't improve wages, he won't be able to keep more staff from leaving.
This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the shortage—with only 16 of the necessary 24 dispatch positions filled—could put local emergency services at risk.
"The reason is real simple," Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said. "They're going to work for the Nampa Police Department and others [making] from anywhere from $3 to $7 an hour more. We pay so poorly."
The Press-Tribune reprots that a current job opening lists a dispatch salary in the range of $33,659 to $36,000.
Meanwhile, Donahue said he was working his staff overtime and postponing vacations to pick up the slack.
"We're watching them walk out the door to another agency after we get them trained," he said.
A coalition of Canyon County agricultural interests is publicly criticizng a master plan for their county, saying the blueprint is missing something: a map with an official connection to the plan.
This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports that a letter from the Coalition for Agriculture's Future was fired off to Canyon County commissioners reminding them that their comprehensive plan requires a map that shows suitable future land use but "no such map exists."
“The absence of such a map renders a comprehensive plan, and any zoning ordinances adopted under the plan, invalid,” says the letter, crafted by an attorney for the CAF.
Late Friday, Canyon County commissioners responded by saying they would "carefully review the claims."
"After we identify or confirm what the issue is, we’ll be able to develop an action plan to address it," wrote the commssioners.
The second time was the charm for Terrence Biggers in his effort to be seated on the Caldwell City Council.
This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the council approved the 55-year-old Biggers Monday night to take the open seat of David Clark, who resigned in January to move to Texas.
The Press-Tribune reports that Biggers is a retired Air Force pilot and moved to Idaho in 2004. He currently owns the Treasure Valley Notary. Biggers had previously thrown his hat into the ring for an earlier open-seat opportunity.
Biggers was one of two finalists for the job, along with 29-year-old Carlos Soriano, a former intern for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.
“As a business owner, I understand the downturn, and businesses are struggling,” Biggers said Monday, according to the Press-Tribune. “In turn, that doesn’t help the government, and in turn, that doesn’t help the city. … If we can improve the business environment here, it will raise the tax base.”
A former intern for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is one of two finalists for a position on the Caldwell City Council.
The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the Caldwell Council will meet this evening, when Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas is expected to recommend a candidate to replace David Clark, who resigned from the council in January.
The Press-Tribune reports that the two finalists are 29-year-old Carlos Soriano, who interned for Bieter in 2008, and 55-year old Terrence Biggers, who has applied for an open council seat before.
Tonight's meeting gets under way at 7 p.m.
Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue says he envisions a mega-jail that would serve multiple counties, but its early in the brainstorming process.
This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Donahue's idea would see several counties "pool their resources and house their inmates in a centralized facility" with Canyon County at its core.
“It automatically cuts down on the cost to the taxpayer, it cuts down on operation, because you’re sharing the cost,” Donahue told the Press-Tribune. “I think anyone who would not be for that would be missing the boat. If we can consolidate resources, every county wins.”
In particular, Donahue said the mega-jail would house inmates for Idaho's 3rd Judicial District, which includes Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties.
The chief reason for the consolidation, Donahue said, was the deterioration of Canyon County's existing jailhouse.
“That building — that jail — is the greatest exposed liability for the entire county. Period,” Donahue told the Press-Tribune. “There’s nothing else that matches that exposed liability to the taxpayer.”
On Monday, Feb. 4, members of the Nampa City Council will take up a resolution that would increase the number of council members from four to six, and authorize an election for citizens to install the two extra members.
That's according to a story from the Idaho Press-Tribune, which reported Nampa Mayor Tom Dale in his State of the City address suggested that as the second largest city in Idaho, Nampa's City Council should consider adding more seats.
From the article:
Idaho code allows for either four or six council members, and Nampa has had four since its founding more than a century ago. Caldwell and Boise both have six city council members.