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Lemhi Co. prosecutor wants AG investigation

Idaho Falls Post Register (Idaho), THE WEST; Pg. B1

November 2, 2010

Lemhi Co. prosecutor wants AG investigation

Lemhi County, ID

SALMON - Lemhi County Prosecutor Bruce Withers on Monday asked the Idaho Attorney General's Office to investigate allegations that a former Sheriff's Office deputy took property from the county evidence room and filed a false insurance claim, among other accusations.

Before he resigned from the sheriff's office Aug. 31, Deputy Jeffrey Stokes told law enforcement officials he took guns that were meant to be secured in the county evidence room, according to a probe released in October by investigators with the Tri-County Sheriff's Association.

Stokes admitted to taking home the guns, which were rusted, saying he intended to clean them and hang them in the sheriff's office for decoration. Years later, the guns remained in his possession.

Under Idaho law, anyone who steals one or more firearms, rifles or shotguns is guilty of grand theft, a felony.

Officials also looked into an accusation that Stokes filed a false insurance claim in 2005. Two members of the sheriff's office said Stokes told them that he damaged his camper-trailer while detonating explosives and then told the insurance company - which ultimately paid the claim - it was damaged by rocks falling off a mountain.

Stokes denied that he filed a fraudulent claim on the vehicle.

Withers has submitted that report to the Attorney General's Office in hopes the state will launch its own inquiry and submit the results to a special prosecutor to determine whether charges are warranted.

"Although Mr. Stokes is no longer employed by the sheriff's office, I worked closely with Mr. Stokes for approximately 10 years in the course of his employment as a deputy and as such feel obligated to make this request for independent review of this matter," Withers wrote to Deputy Attorney General Stephen Bywater, head of the office's criminal law division.

The accusations surrounding Stokes surfaced when former Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Randy Neal was appointed special prosecutor to review allegations of drunken driving by then-Sheriff Sam Slavin, Stokes' stepfather.

Slavin resigned during Neal's investigation on July 9 and later pleaded guilty to a second-offense DUI.

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