Trial date for Idaho City postmaster facing grand theft charge vacated

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comApril 10, 2014 

Former Idaho City postmaster Teresa Belau, left, seen in court Feb. 13.

EILEEN CAPSON — The Idaho World

The former Idaho City postmaster accused of stealing gift cards from the mail won't face a jury trial in mid-May, as had been scheduled. A judge on Thursday took it off the calendar, so some issues could be ironed out before the trial.

Teresa Belau, who served as postmaster for 14 years, was charged with felony grand theft in January.

At a preliminary hearing in January, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigator testified that Belau confessed in a recorded interview to taking items from the mail on three occasions.

A pre-trial hearing was held Thursday morning in Boise County Court. District Judge Patrick Owen vacated the scheduled May 15 jury trial, according to Boise County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jay Prosecutor Rosenthal and Belau's attorney, Brad Poole.

"Everybody agreed that additional time was needed," Poole said.

Specifically, Poole is challenging whether Target gift cards — which Belau is accused of taking from the mail — are, in fact, "financial transaction cards" under state statute. She was charged with felony theft because the Boise County prosecutor believes gift cards are financial transaction cards.

Here is the state statute defining what a "financial transaction card" is:

A "financial transaction card" or "FTC" means any instrument or device known as a credit card, credit plate, bank services card, banking card, check guarantee card, debit card, telephone credit card or by any other name issued by the issuer for the use of the card holder in obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value on credit, or in certifying or guaranteeing to a person or business the availability to the card holder of the funds on deposit that are equal to or greater than the amount necessary to honor a draft or check payable to the order of such a person or business; or any instrument or device used in providing the card holder access to a demand deposit account or a time deposit account for the purpose of making deposits of money or checks therein, or withdrawing funds in the form of money, money orders, or traveler's checks or other representative of value therefrom or transferring funds from any demand account or time deposit account to any credit card account in full or partial satisfaction of any outstanding balance existing therein.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413 Twitter: @KatyMoeller

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