Idaho fracking activist files $1.5 million claim against Payette County for wrongful arrest

Alma Hasse alleges her arrest at a Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing and her subsequent incarceration were illegal, according to a tort claim filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.

During an Oct. 9 hearing pertaining to Alta Mesa Idaho natural gas facility’s permit, Hasse gave testimony critical of the county and then later spoke out during a portion of the meeting when the public is not allowed to speak. Planning Commission Chairman Chad Henggler called the Payette County sheriff and told him to remove Hasse from the public hearing. She was charged with trespass and restricting and obstructing officers, both misdemeanors. Hasse refused to speak to officers or give her name while being booked into jail. As a result she was held in isolation for five days with “no access to a shower, no contact with her husband, no access to clean clothes, and was forced to use the toilet while a male prison guard watched her,” according to the claim. On day five she was arraigned and bond was set at $10,000. She remained incarcerated for three more days.

Both charges against Hasse are “patently inapplicable” and she was wrongfully jailed, according to the claim filed April 6 by Hasse’s attorney, Nick Warden with Boise-based Fisher Rainey Hudson.

The Payette County prosecuting attorney dismissed the charges against Hasse on April 2.

In her claim, Hasse alleges the county’s actions violated her First, Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights and her right to due process. In addition to Payette County commissioners, planning and zoning commissioners and prosecuting attorney, the claim also includes members of the Payette Police Department, Payette County Sheriff’s Office, Payette County Jail.