State to Guerber: Pay Up 

We'll find out in a few weeks if there was criminal intent, but for now, Steve Guerber is out of a job and owes the state nearly $5,000. A 62-page report by the State Controller's Office had a single message for Guerber, the former director of the Idaho State Historical Society: Pay up. State Controller Keith Johnson and staff reviewed years of financial documents, receipts and other reports from Guerber and found that he owed the state $4,832 because he'd either been reimbursed for things he shouldn't have, or used a state purchasing card to buy things the state doesn't cover.

Like football tickets. Johnson's investigation found that Guerber used his state credit card to buy $128 worth of Boise State tickets in 2004, ostensibly as payment for a speaker to the Historical Society. The tickets, Guerber said, were for the director of the Washington State Historical Society, as compensation for a visit to the agency and a speech.

Just one problem: Johnson and co. called Dave Nicandri, the Washington State director, who told the Idaho investigators his trip to Idaho was purely personal, had no business with the Idaho State Historical Society, and that he was here to see the game with Oregon State (he's a Beaver fan) and that he bought his own tickets. Nicandri never met with Guerber.

"I think it's clear from the report that there were some problems there," said Johnson, who emphasized that this was not a criminal investigation and that the report did not necessarily "exonerate" Guerber.

But Guerber thinks it implied otherwise. In a statement issued from the office of his attorney David Leroy, Guerber said he was "pleased to end my 10 years of service to the state on this positive note." He said he will pay back the money he owes Idaho, which he said is the result of "accounting errors and technical non-compliance with complicated regulations."

As for Johnson, he's thinking of the future too. Since his term is up (Republican Donna Jones beat out Democrat Jackie Groves Twilegar for the job in the Nov. 7 election), he's looking across the street to the transition office of Governor-elect Butch Otter. Although Johnson said he and Otter "haven't committed to anything yet," he was interested in the job of budget director for the new administration.

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