RUPERT – Minidoka County Sheriff Kevin Halverson is facing a felony charge after allegedly using a county gas card for personal use.
“It’s really important that people know we haven’t turned our backs on this issue,” said Bob Moore, chairman of the Minidoka County commissioners.
Halverson was charged Friday with one felony count of misuse of public money by a public officer with an estimated loss to the county of $241.75. An arraignment is set for 8:30 a.m. July 18 in Minidoka County 5th District Magistrate Court.
The alleged misuse of funds occurred between Nov. 2, 2012, and Jan. 13, 2013.
Halverson has not yet entered a plea in the case. He did not return phone calls from the Times-News on Friday.
According to court documents, the attorney general’s office obtained text messages that allegedly indicate Halverson used his county gas card to put fuel into the vehicle of a sheriff's office employee, Alicia Daniel. Video surveillance from the gas station shows Halverson putting fuel into Daniel’s vehicle.
According to court documents, Halverson was allegedly having a personal relationship with Daniel, who works in the driver’s license bureau. Text messages also indicate Halverson invited sheriff's office employee Nicole Wayment to accompany him while picking up Daniel from the Boise airport.
“I’ll cover the day for you so it won’t count against you,” a text message to Wayment from Halverson reads.
The text messages also suggest alleged drinking and driving by Halverson.
Lance Stevenson, Minidoka County prosecutor, said he could not comment on the employment status or any disciplinary actions regarding county employees.
“No one would prosecute a charge of an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate,” Moore said about Halverson’s alleged conduct.
Stevenson said his office turned over the allegations of Halverson’s misuse of funds in February to the attorney general’s office, which conducted an extensive investigation.
Court documents say Halverson allegedly lied to state investigators when he was questioned about the misuse of funds.
According to court documents, Halverson was put on notice by the county in August 2012 for using a county fuel credit card during a personal trip to Utah.
“Since the situation is relatively new the commissioners are dealing with several issues on the side that are based in the report,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said Idaho law allows a public official to remain in office until he or she is convicted of a crime and breaches the oath of office.
Halverson also has the option of resigning.
If a public official is convicted or resigns from office, state law dictates that the registered central committee of his political party select three candidates, whose names are turned over to the county commissioners. The commissioners appoint a replacement for the office.
In May, Halverson officially changed his political affiliation from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party.
At the time, he told the Times-News the switch better served his constituents and, despite rumors to the contrary, he had no intention of resigning.
Stevenson said that because there is no registered Libertarian committee in the county, the commissioners would appoint a sheriff if Halverson is convicted or resigns.
It remains unclear because of his recent party-affiliation change whether Halverson could be recalled.
Stevenson said the pending charges against Halverson will not affect the prosecution of any cases by his office unless Halverson were directly involved in the investigation.
Bob Cooper, spokesman for the Idaho Attorney General’s Office, said the full investigative report will be active and not made available to the public until sentencing on a case or an acquittal.
“My opinion is the public is always best served by knowing the truth,” Cooper said.