For the second time in less than a year, April Rice was cleared Friday of charges stemming from a deposit of a check into a trust account of a person who died.
An Ada County jury deliberated about an hour before finding Rice not guilty of grand theft over the $31,349 check. The verdict came on the third day of the trial.
“I just felt all along that April was being unfairly tried and that she would be acquitted,” said Boise attorney Chuck Peterson, who represented Rice.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office investigated the incident and prosecuted Rice.
“Our role as prosecutors is to present the evidence and the jury’s job is to then determine guilt or innocence,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “The jury has spoken and I respect its decision.”
Rice was a former state manager who oversaw security at the Capitol Mall and other state buildings. She was suspended without pay from her job in February 2016.
In fall 2014, the state named Rice a trustee of the estate of Daniel Jullion, a friend of Rice who died without heirs that August.
Ada County employees provided Rice with five boxes of Jullion’s personal papers. One of the boxes contained the check, written by the county’s Treasurer’s Office.
Rice believed the check was part of Jullion’s estate and deposited it into a bank trust account established to hold the estate’s assets.
It turned out the money was proceeds from another estate processed by the treasurer’s office. The check should have been deposited into a state account for unclaimed money.
The Attorney General’s Office accused Rice and Eleasha L. Jenkins, a former treasurer’s office employee, of conspiring to steal the money. The treasurer’s office handles the estates of county residents who die without a will and have no heirs.
A judge tossed the case against Rice last June and prosecutors refiled her charges, leading to Friday’s acquittal. She later filed a tort claim, a precursor to suing a public agency, against Ada County and Treasurer Vicky McIntyre. Lack of oversight of Jenkins led to Rice receiving the proceeds from the wrong estate, the claim alleged.
Jenkins, who worked in the treasurer’s office from April 2013 to April 2015, pleaded guilty in October to grand theft. In exchange, two other counts of grand theft and two counts of forgery were dismissed.
She is scheduled to be sentenced April 26.
In November, Jenkins was cited in Washington County, Ore., on a charge of first-degree theft. No details about that case were immediately available Friday.
She has pleaded not guilty there and is scheduled to go to trial June 6.
On April 4, Jenkins was charged with possession of methamphetamine, also in Washington County, located in the west Portland suburbs. An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday when she failed to appear that day for a preliminary hearing.
The following day, she was taken into custody, posted $1,000 bond and was released, according to Oregon online court records.