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The Adams County Record
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April 25, 2012     The Adams County Record
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April 25, 2012
 

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The Adams County Record Wednesday, April 25, 2012 Page 15 Investigation: Gun Sales Continued from front page and they just agreed to put it back in the drug donation fund, which is a separate fund from mine altogether, and we use it for purchasing things and for drug enforcemenff One of the confiscated rifles had been a gift from McTavisch's wife, and it had sentimental value, so the judge discussed the value of the rifle and determined that McTavisch could buy it back for $750. (The other rifle was a gift from his ex-wife and had no sentimental value.) It's my understanding that the rifle was to be held until March 1, 2011, and if the restitution was not paid by that time, the sheriff could sell it. McTavisch made two payments, paying the balance due in February of 2011. When the money was paid, McTavisch says he made it clear that the money was to go toward getting the rifle back, not toward the fines that he still owed--something like $2000. When the Sheriff's office checked, on March 8, 2011, to see if restitution had been paid, everything seemed to indicate that it had not been paid and both of the confiscated guns were clear to be sold. And so they were sold. They were handed over to a licensed Council gun dealer--Vic Ludwig at Council Valley Market-- where they sold quickly. There was little or no notice to the public that these two rifles were for sale. Mr. and/or Mrs. McTavisch went back and forth between the sheriff's office and Fish & Game in McCall for a year, trying to get the "gift" rifle back. Mrs. McTavisch finally spoke to Sheriff Green personally, and contacted Commissioner Brown. The Sheriff and the Commissioners then sat down and looked at the trail of evidence as to what had happened. According to Green, he doesn't )ust sell confiscated firearms on his own; there is a procedure that requires the judge to sign off such sales, which was followed. When the sheriff and the commissioners looked at the print out from the clerk's office showing the payments made by the McTavisches, Green said he "couldn't make heads or tails of it" nor could the commissioners. The exact deficiency in the way the money the McTavisches paid was documented, or even if there actually was a deficiency, is not the central focus of this investigation. But if it is a problem, that's a situation that should be improved if at all possible. Sheriff Green tried to track down McTavisch's "gift" rifle, but Ludwig had sold it to a man who resold the rifle soon after buying it, and the man had since died. There was no record of who he had sold it to. The gun was gone. Sheriff Green is now working through the process of refunding the money the McTavisches paid to get the rifle back. Just how any unpaid portion of Mr. McTavisch's fines may figure into this is not known at this time-- another knot to unravel. q-he plot thickens There was a rumor that the judge in the McTavisch case bought the McTavisch's "gift" rifle. When asked at a commissioners meeting about this, the judge denied buying it. And, in fact, he didn't buy it; he bought the other confiscated McTavisch rifle, according to Vic Ludwig. There may be nothing illegal about this, but it certainly has an appearance of impropriety. Not too long ago there was a drug bust near Council in which 41 guns 66 only insiders (deputies, judges, etc.) knew about them. State statute Idaho Code (Title 55, Chapter 4; 55-403) refers to the sale of property held by the sheriff. In my view, it says law enforcement has three options in disposing of firearms: 1) keep and use them for law enforcement, 2) destroy them, or 3) auction them to a licensed firearms dealer, giving adequate public notice that the guns are being sold. The code section is too long to include here, but anyone can look it up on the Internet. (If you would like to read the statute with my notes and interpretation, attorney, Michael Robinson, respectfully disagreed, saying the statute seems to say guns must be auctioned, with public notice given. Everyone agreed that the statute is very poorly written and not easily understood. Background According to Judge Jim Peart, years ago, the Sheriff's Office had quite a collection of confiscated guns rusting away in the "rat room" in the basement of the old courthouse. They wanted to get rid of them, but were unsure how they should go about it. Peart, who firmly believes the Idaho statute does not require such guns to be auctioned, worked with the sheriff's office on a ...there is no "smoking gun" ... to method of selling them show that anyone has broken a law.   through a licensed I / gun dealer who would were confiscated. They were eventually turned over to Ludwig at Council Valley Market to sell. Even as the guns were being brought to Ludwig, deputies and a judge were looking them over and picking out the ones they wanted to buy. Ludwig made them stop, and told them he had to go through the process of recording serial numbers and documenting each gun before they could be sold. After the proper documentation was finished, the same people came back and bought a number of guns. And again, the public was either poorly notified, or not notified at all, that these guns were for sale. For the most part, go to: DaleFisk.com/guns. htm) At the candidate forum Thursday night in New Meadows. I asked each of the sheriff candidates and both prosecuting attorney candidates about the law pertaining to selling confiscated firearms. Ryan Zollman and Walt Okamoto were the only two sheriff candidates with informed opinions on the matter, and they thought the statute does not stipulate that the sheriff cannot sell firearms directly to a dealer without public notice. Mr. Gabbert agreed. Gabbert's rival for the office of prosecuting sell them at bluebook price minus a commission. Peart said items often only return pennies on the dollar at sheriff's auctions, so sale through a licensed dealer made more sense. He also pointed out that not all guns sell quickly, sometimes because they are in poor condition. So? So, after searching the shadowy corners, there is no "smoking gun" -- no pun intended -- to show that anyone has broken a law. But it seems to me that the intent of the state statute (if not the letter) is that when property acquired by the sheriff is sold, even if auctioning it isn't the best way to sell them, then at the very least the public needs to know about it. "fhe way guns have been sold in the past has angered people because they would have liked to have had a chance to buy them. It just doesn't seem right that only the people who are on the inside of a small circle of county officials have the opportunity to buy them, or even have the first opportunity to do so, before the public is aware of the sale. I've talked to Rich Green about this several times, and he agrees that confiscated guns should be sold in a more open way. And the commissioners have now asked the sheriff to put a more open policy in writing so that there will be no misunderstanding about how the sale of confiscated firearms is to be conducted. Since the time that all this happened, Fish & Game has changed its policy, and will now hold their confiscated property and collect any money from the sale of that property themselves instead of involving the sheriff's office. And so I leave the matter here. The public may still have seeds of doubts sprouting in the shadowy corners, but at least some light has been focused there. And there is always another day, and another chance to shine light into those corners. Adams County Commissioners Continued from front page the road was destroyed in June, 2011. Sheriff Rich Green had received requests to assign prisoners to garbage cleanup and other public service projects in the county, Sheriff Green has had to decline all these requests because the Department of Corrections does not allow inmates housed in Adams County jail to work without constant super- vision, which the Sheriff said he cannot provide with his current staffing. County prisoners can be assigned work release by a judge, but that program requires the inmate pay the department for the time spent on a job and would not work for clean- up projects. The Sheriff defended his decision to fill two vacant positions in his depart- ment without getting the prior approval of the Commissioners as stipu- lated in their hiring freeze enacted in November, 2011. Chairman Brown said that the Sheriff's Department was subject to the freeze, and that the Commission expect- ed to be included in any future hiring decisions. The Sheriff Department required additional county funds to cover expenses in the first quarter of this fiscal year, and has only recently had enough revenue from the State to cover jail expenses. Chairman Brown ques- tioned how the Sheriff Department can be "within budget" when the revenues budgeted do not match the expenses for the year. The Sheriff said he has two addi- tional vacant positions in his department, which he wants to fill as soon as possible. Chairman Brown requested a written pro- cedure from the Sheriff Department for handling property and guns seized in Adams County. Recent disclosures of guns sales in the county without public notice has raised an issue of honesty in how the Department reports its actions, and questions about who buys seized properties and guns from the county. Sheriff Green reported that he is con- tinuing to work on a pro- cedure that attempts to clear up this matter for the public. Jetboat Continued from front page feels hot. For the first time all week, the sun came out and stayed out. Riggins is always warm- er than Council or New Meadows--and days, if not weeks, ahead of us in the arrival of spring. The lilacs are in full bloom down there! And a lot of winter-white skin was turning rosy red as peo- ple turned out in tank tops and shorts. Downtown Riggins was wall-to-wall cars, pick- ups, motorcycles, yard sales, lemonade stands and pedestrians this past weekend as the town attracted crowds to wit- ness the final day of the 2012 World Jet Boat Marathon. We arrived a day late to see one of the boats crash and sink. And we were just a little too late to see that resurrect- ed boat, with its upper hull patched together with...you guessed it, the handyman's secret weap- on-duct tape. The boat sank in the first leg of the Salmon River part of the marathon on Friday. Thanks to duct tape and lohn loyce of Big Ed's towing in Riggins who took on a very unusual job for a tow truck, the boat named "Whitey," was back on the river Saturday morning. But it only made one run before throwing in the towel (and maybe the duct tape). Speaking of throw- ing in the towel, the Australian team took one look at the rapids in the River of No Return and decided not to par- ticipate at Riggins. The race began April 13 at St. Maries, Idaho with over 30 jet boats roaring up and down the St. Joe River. And they do roar. If you've heard a racecar with duel exhaust and no muffler, you know what a racing jet boat sounds like. Over the past week, as the boats raced on the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, most of them had flipped, crashed, mal- functioned or chickened out, and only about five were left to compete in the final leg on Saturday. The boats ran the course one at a time and the best overall time won. The overall mara- thon champion was Ryan Rogers of Rogers Toyota in Lewiston and navi- gator Gary Weaver of Crabtree, Oregon in a CX Class jet boat.