Helmandollar lawyer: Nampa PD violated ex-Columbia High coach’s constitutional rights

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The former Columbia High School football coach arrested in June on a suspected drug charge appeared in Canyon County court Tuesday. His defense attorney argued that he was being deprived of his constitutional rights because of a police press release.

Jon Helmandollar, 35, is charged on suspicion of felony solicitation to commit a crime and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing police. He is accused of attempting to obtain prescription drugs illegally from his wife and third parties over a seven-month span.

The investigation into Helmandollar began after an Amber Alert was issued March 20 regarding his child, who was taken out of state by Helmandollar’s wife and was possibly in danger, according to police. The child was located safely in Cheney, Washington, and Helmandollar’s wife was never charged in the incident.

Helmandollar’s attorney, Edwina Elcox, argued that the press releases put out by the Nampa Police Department at the time of the Amber Alert and in the days following deprived her client of the presumption of innocence and his right to a fair trial.

Nampa PD previously reported that when police interviewed Helmandollar during the search for his child, he initially provided false information about the location of his daughter. A search of his phone allegedly found text messages that led to evidence he had been attempting to obtain prescription drugs illegally, according to a probable cause affidavit written by Nampa police.

The court’s probable cause affidavit alleges that he made efforts to obtain Adderall and Xanax.

Elcox filed a motion on June 28, arguing that the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct were violated when Nampa PD posted the press release about Helmandollar to its social media accounts. The motion argues that police made statements that “proclaim” Helmandollar was guilty of the offenses he was charged with, depriving him of his right to due process.

Elcox asked Magistrate Judge John Meienhofer to order Nampa PD to remove the press release and issue a corrected statement, clarifying that Helmandollar is presumed innocent and the charges are allegations. She also asked that the affidavit of probable cause in his case be sealed from the public, among other demands.

And she argued that NPD used the Amber Alert to investigate unrelated issues in Helmandollar’s life.

The Canyon County prosecutor argued that press releases are routine for Nampa police and that the situation was not a violation of the professional conduct rules.

Meienhofer said Tuesday that he would deny the request to seal the probable cause affidavit “right off the bat” because it was public record in all criminal cases, but that he would take the rest of Elcox’s motion into consideration and make a decision at a later hearing.

Helmandollar’s next hearing is set for Aug. 27 and he remains out of custody on bond as he awaits trial.

Helmandollar was hired as Columbia’s head coach in January 2018. He played running back at Boise State University from 2004-2007 before he was dismissed following a DUI arrest. He resigned as coach in May after the Amber Alert investigation.

Helmandollar led Columbia to a 6-5 record and the first playoff win in program history last fall. The Wildcats reached the playoffs for just the second time and finished with a winning record for the third time in the program’s 13-year history.

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.