Few Rigby public figures carried the stature of former City Council President Lawrence Blackburn.
Well-dressed and with a warm smile, Blackburn served seven years on the council, winning a second term in 2009. He also served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Traffic Committee, and headed a private investment company.
Darwin Dinsdale, who served on the council with Blackburn in 2006 and 2007, said his former neighbor and colleague was known as a down-to-earth, church-going father of four and dedicated civil servant.
Dinsdale was shocked when he read the file for a lawsuit against his friend, accusing Blackburn of using the accounts of Lantech client Margaret Orvick as a personal piggybank.
Orvick was 91 when she died in 2011.
"I never knew he was that much of a crook," Dinsdale said. "He was a very smooth talker."
District Court Judge Gregory Moeller awarded $30,000 to Orvick's daughter and primary estate beneficiary, Marie Starr Orvick, in a stipulated judgment issued Oct. 11.
Less than five months after the lawsuit became public, Blackburn resigned his council post and abruptly moved out of state. He told the council he was moving to Texas for a new job.
Efforts to reach him were unsuccessful and his old cellphone number is out of service.
Court documents include a deposition in which Blackburn admits to using Margaret Orvick's accounts for personal expenses, including utility bills, DVD rentals, and hotel rooms in Kentucky, Nevada and California. He also withdrew cash.
JUDGMENT UNPAID, CASE UNPROSECUTED
"I couldn't believe my eyes," Dinsdale said. "I sit down there in the court-house and start thumbing through it and thought, 'Holy cow.' If this guy was put into any kind of court over this and prosecuted, he'd be convicted overnight."
Blackburn hasn't paid a dime of the $30,000, said Starr Orvick, 50, who lives in Oklahoma.
Councilman Ryan Day said he confronted Blackburn after reading about the Orvick lawsuit in the newspaper.
"He basically said it was technical issues he got in trouble for," Day said. "I asked him to think about resigning."
Blackburn's lawsuit wasn't discussed at City Hall, according to Councilman Michael Maloney, who said he was surprised by Blackburn's sudden departure.
Blackburn told the council that he was resigning Feb. 5, effective the following day.
"I was concerned about what I read in the paper, no doubt about it, but I decided to see how the whole thing played out," Maloney said. "I've always taken what I read with a grain of salt. I was concerned, but I held my judgment in reserve."
After investigating Blackburn, the Idaho Department of Insurance fined him $3,000 and revoked his insurance license.
Additionally, Blackburn was sued successfully three times after the Orvick lawsuit for unrelated debts and ordered to pay a total of $9,521.30.
Some Rigby residents still trust Blackburn, Dinsdale said, and sympathize with him for the scrutiny he's received in newspapers and around town.
But Dinsdale and others wonder why Blackburn was never prosecuted.
They also wonder why Jefferson County Prosecutor Robin Dunn represented Blackburn during the lawsuit.
'SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS, LITTLE MISS'
Starr Orvick marched into the office of former Rigby Police Chief Larry Anderson with a stack of account documents under her arm and the hope that a criminal investigation would follow.
Starr Orvick said her calls and messages to Anderson went unanswered. When she finally did reach Anderson, she said she was uninspired by his response:
"Those are some pretty serious allegations, little miss."
Police Chief Keith Hammon declined to comment on Blackburn.
Dunn wears many hats. He's the attorney for Jefferson County, the Planning and Zoning Commission and five cities, including Rigby. He's also the county prosecutor and maintains a private practice.
ATTORNEY GENERAL NOTIFIED
Day questioned whether Dunn's representation of Blackburn was a conflict of interest.
"Whether this is a legal conflict or not, I think it was inappropriate for our city attorney to represent a councilman," Day said.
Dunn said it's common for part-time prosecutors in rural Idaho communities to work in both the government and private sides of law.
"I don't see (representing Blackburn) as a problem, but I see how the layperson might not understand the various duties and responsibilities we have," Dunn said. "As such, it might be - and I stress the word might - be appropriate to do less work for people involved within the county and municipal government or other agencies."
When details emerged suggesting that law enforcement could get involved, Dunn said the Department of Insurance looked into the matter and transferred it to the Idaho attorney general.
Attorney general spokes-man Bob Cooper confirmed the referral but said he could neither confirm nor deny that there was an investigation or that one is in progress.
Dinsdale and others are unhappy that no charges have been filed.
"Lawrence should have been prosecuted," Dinsdale said. "We think it's a conflict of interest for Dunn to even be supporting him at all."
Back in Oklahoma, Starr Orvick said she's abandoned hope that she'll hear from Blackburn at all, let alone receive payment.