A judge cleared the way Monday for a trial to proceed on three of seven felony misuse of public funds charges filed against Ada County Treasurer Vicky McIntyre.
Tickets McIntyre purchased with her county-issued credit card while attending a work-related conference in March in Las Vegas were for events that were “purely entertainment” and “clearly not work-related,” Ada County Magistrate Judge Daniel Steckel said during McIntyre’s preliminary hearing.
But Steckel did not find probable cause to advance four other counts involving purchases McIntyre made with the county card in 2016 while on a personal trip to Arkansas.
“I find it pretty clear Ms. McIntyre violated [county] policy, but it is not clear to me that she violated Idaho statute,” he said about those charges.
McIntyre was elected county treasurer in 2010.
An investigation by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office led state prosecutors in July to charge McIntyre with the seven felonies. Court documents claim she had charged almost $500 in personal expenses to her county-issued credit card since January 2016. She pleaded not guilty to the charges this August.
Investigators identified seven instances where they believed McIntyre illegally used her county-issued credit card:
▪ March 22, 2018: Bought two High Roller Ferris Wheel tickets and paid for personal ground transportation costs in Las Vegas that totaled $154.27.
▪ Jan. 29, 2018: Purchased two tickets to a hockey game in Las Vegas for $173.
▪ Jan. 13, 2016: Bought personal items at WalMart, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Eleven and Village Inn Restaurant in Bentonville, Arkansas, that totaled $171.19.
Eric Rossman, McIntyre’s attorney, told the judge the Arkansas charges were incurred because McIntyre accidentally used the wrong credit card while on a personal trip. When she returned to Boise, he said, she realized the mistake and wrote a reimbursement check directly to the credit card company instead of reimbursing the county. He said she did not notify county officials about the mix-up because she did not think it was required.
Rossman argued the Las Vegas tickets McIntyre bought were work-related. He said McIntyre attended the hockey game to network with her peers, and she took her co-worker on the Ferris wheel ride as part of a “team-building” effort.
Additionally, Rossman said McIntyre did not receive any official training from the county on what constitutes improper spending. He also noted that as an elected official, she can make her own determinations about what is appropriate spending for her department.
Steckel did not see it that way.
“It is clear to me that if a public official went to a conference and paid for Celine Dion tickets in Vegas and called it ‘networking,’ that may not be a proper use of public funds,” said Steckel, who likened McIntyre’s hockey game to his concert scenario.
“Regarding the Ferris wheel, that one is easier for me. You cannot look at the sky and say let’s ride the Ferris wheel,” then use public funds to buy the tickets and call it work-related, the judge said.
McIntyre is set to be arraigned 1:30 p.m. Nov. 7 before Ada County 4th District Judge Peter Barton.
Ada County suspended McIntyre from her duties after learning of the charges. Elizabeth Mahn, who is running for that office, is serving as acting treasurer until a new treasurer is elected.
McIntyre, a Republican, did not seek re-election this year, but ran for state treasurer instead. She lost in a three-way primary in May.