GOODING — A Jerome woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to grand theft for stealing $700,000 while she worked for a Gooding dairy.
Stephanie Wells, 34, appeared before Fifth District Judge Rosemary Emory at the Gooding County Courthouse for the change of plea hearing.
Wells’ attorney, F. Matt Stoppello, announced Wells would plead guilty to five of the 19 counts of grand theft filed against her in April.
Wells was hired by Box Canyon Dairy as chief financial officer and internal accountant in 2012, according to court documents. She resigned in January as the dairy was closing its operation. Wells was charged after an investigation showed she had written checks to pay credit card bills and falsified payments for a loan she had with the company.
Emory read the plea agreement signed by Wells, outlining that Wells would enter her guilty plea to five counts, and the other 14 counts would be dismissed.
The maximum sentence for each count of grand theft is 14 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, Emory said. The plea agreement provided an open recommendation on sentencing, with probation as a possibility, Emory said.
As Emory questioned Wells about her wish to plead guilty, she asked, “Do you believe you have any defenses to these charges?”
“No,” Wells quietly replied.
Emory read each of the counts asking for Wells’ plea.
Wells was then asked what she did that made her guilty of the charge.
“I took a Box Canyon Dairy check to pay a personal credit card,” Wells answered.
After Emory scheduled Wells’ sentencing for Feb. 25, Gooding County Prosecutor Matt Pember informed the court that, though an exact figure has not been determined, the restitution Wells will be required to pay will be more than $600,000.
Wells and her husband, Dustin Wells, face a civil lawsuit brought by Box Canyon Dairy in Jerome County in an attempt to recover the funds. Dustin Wells filed a bankruptcy petition in May.
BURLEY — The man suspected of killing a Burley teen 24 years ago will no longer face the death penalty when his case goes to trial, the Cassia County prosecutor said Nov. 26.
Gilberto Flores Rodriguez, 57, was arrested and charged in February with the first-degree murder of Regina Krieger in her basement bedroom in 1995.
Cassia County Prosecutor Doug Abenroth filed a motion to seek the death penalty in the case on April 17.
“Ethically, we can make no comment on why we are making a decision on an open case,” said Doug Abenroth, Cassia County prosecutor after the Tuesday hearing where he told the judge about the change.
Cassia County District Judge Michael Tribe also on Tuesday heard a motion filed by Rodriguez’s attorney, Keith Roark, asking that the jury trial be rescheduled.
Roark said the defense legal team was preparing for a capital murder case and was going to ask for a six-month continuation, but in light of the prosecutor’s motion, they would not need quite as much additional time.
Both Abenroth and Roark agreed that the jury trial should be pushed forward from the scheduled April 20 start. A status hearing in the case was set at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in Cassia County District Court to set a new trial date.
The trial is expected to last two to four weeks.
Another motion regarding bail for Rodriguez was filed on Nov. 21 by the prosecutor but was not heard by the court Tuesday.
The motion asks the court to set a minimum bail for Rodriguez of $10 million, saying he is a flight risk, among other reasons.
Krieger was 14 when she disappeared from her Burley home. Her body was found along the Snake River and officials said her throat was slit and she had been stabbed in the heart.
In a preliminary hearing in magistrate court earlier this year, witnesses testified that Rodriguez entered Krieger’s bedroom, which had an outside door, and reemerged from the house carrying her body wrapped in a bloody blanket.
A witness said Rodriguez stopped at a Burley residence and cleaned up and then drove to a Minidoka County bridge, where Rodriguez and the witness dumped Krieger’s body.
Another witness during the hearing said Rodriguez talked about the girl’s murder afterward.
WENDELL — A family went into hiding after a possible home invasion and shooting Monday evening.
Gooding County deputies responded to a home south of Wendell at about 7 p.m., Sheriff Shaun Gough said.
Upon arrival, deputies found the front door had been forced open, Gough said. A search commenced, and the family was discovered hiding in the basement.
Deputies were told that a man wearing a black ski mask, a light-colored hat and light-colored hoodie broke through the front door and pointed a gun at a man in the home, the sheriff said.
It is suspected the gun misfired, because the occupant of the home saw the intruder messing with the gun. He also saw a bullet hit the floor, Gough said.
The intruder then fired the weapon, missing the occupants of the home. One bullet hole was found in a hallway near the living room, Gough said.
The intruder was seen driving a large silver SUV.
This is believed to be an isolated incident, Gough said. A person of interest has been identified, but anyone with information about the incident should contact the Gooding County Sheriff's Office, 208-934-4422, or SIRCOMM, 208-324-1911.
TWIN FALLS — A man who police say refused to pay his bar tab is now facing multiple felony charges.
Michael Folmar, 28, was arraigned by Magistrate Judge Calvin Campbell on Friday afternoon at the Twin Falls County Courthouse.
Folmar is charged with three felonies: battery on a law enforcement officer and two counts of removing a firearm from a law enforcement officer. He also is charged with misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing officers and petit theft.
If convicted of the felonies, Folmar could be sentenced to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine for each count.
He is already serving felony probation on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, Twin Falls Deputy Prosecutor Stan Holloway said. Folmar’s record also includes felonies from out of state.
The incident began about 1 a.m. Thursday when Folmar attempted to pay his tab at the Klover Klub Lounge on Main Avenue North, according to the probable cause affidavit.
After his credit card was declined, the affidavit said, Folmar refused to pay the tab.
Twin Falls Police responded to the scene and Folmar ran out the door.
When Folmar was caught a few blocks away, he continued to resist, including while officers tried to search him, the affidavit said.
Then, Folmar attempted to grab one of the officer’s sidearms and kicked the officer, the affidavit said. When a second officer came to assist, Folmar attempted to grab his sidearm.
Folmar remains in custody at the Twin Falls County Jail on a $75,000 bond.
BOISE — A 17-year-old boy from Twin Falls County died Saturday from injuries he suffered in a car crash.
Mayson Martinez was driving east on Interstate 84 at about 5 p.m. Saturday when his car rolled, the Ada County Coroner’s Office said.
Martinez was near milepost 93 in Mountain Home and was thrown from the car, the coroner’s office said.
Martinez was flown to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries. A 16-year-old boy who was a passenger in the car was injured, according to the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office.
Martinez was a student at Filer High School where he played football, basketball and baseball.
The Ada County Coroner lists the cause and manner of death as pending, with toxicology results possibly taking several weeks.
The case is under investigation by the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office, the Coroner’s Office reported.