A woman charged with theft from estates handled by the Ada County Treasurer’s Office has filed a claim “in excess of $250,000” against the county and Treasurer Vicky McIntyre, alleging that lack of oversight led to her receiving proceeds from the wrong estate.
April Rice, 43, of Boise, also claims she was misled by a county employee who claimed to be a paralegal and who persuaded Rice to pay her $23,000 to process an estate through the court.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden charged former Ada County Treasurer’s Office employee Eleasha L. Jenkins, 43, and Rice, a former state manager who oversaw security at the Capitol Mall and other state buildings, with multiple theft and felony charges on Jan. 29.
Both women are accused of stealing and then forging a check drawn on an Ada County Treasurer’s Office account and forging a will. Rice is also accused of forging two vehicle titles.
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Rice filed a tort claim Feb. 16 against the county. A tort is a wrongful act for which someone can be held liable through a lawsuit. A tort claim is a preliminary step before a suit is filed.
According to Rice’s claim:
Jenkins notified Rice in September 2014 that Rice had been named as a trustee in the estate of a deceased man, Daniel Jullion.
The treasurer’s office handles the estates of county residents who die without a will or any heirs. Jenkins, who worked for the county from April 2013 to April 2015, administered those cases.
County employees delivered boxes of Jullion’s personal papers to Rice, including a check for about $31,000. Rice believed the check was part of Jullion’s estate.
“Apparently, the check represented money from another person’s estate and should not have been delivered by Ada County to Ms. Rice,” the claim said.
Rice deposited the check into a bank account opened to hold Jullion’s trust assets.
Jenkins “convinced” Rice to pay Jenkins about $23,000 to perform “legal services” and process Jullion’s estate through courts. Rice paid Jenkins with money from Jullion’s estate.
“Jenkins was not a lawyer, was not licensed to prepare such documents … and was negligent in the preparation and filings of the documents she did prepare,” the claim said. “The documents were not sufficient to serve as pleadings in the probate and administration of the Jullion estate.”
Rice learned of the possible wrongful conduct in August 2015 when she was notified that Jenkins was a suspect in a crime involving Jullion’s estate and that detectives wanted to talk to Rice.
“The actions of Ada County, its treasurer and employees ultimately caused Ms. Rice to be named as a co-defendant in a criminal case,” the claim said. “She is suspended from her position with the state as a result of Ms. Jenkins’ and Ms. McIntyre’s actions and omissions, suffered the loss of her professional reputation and is wrongly blamed for Ms. Jenkins’ crimes.
“(Rice) has suffered losses exceeding $250,000, including the loss of employment, wages, state benefits, the cost of a legal defense in a criminal case, loss of her good reputation and emotional distress.”
McIntyre told the Statesman that she doesn’t believe Rice’s claim is valid.
“Until the hearing, I do not feel comfortable sharing data that we have on this matter,” she said.
Jenkins faces three counts of grand theft and two counts of forgery. Rice faces three counts of grand theft and five counts of forgery.
Neither woman has been arrested. They were summoned to an arraignment to be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Ada County Courthouse.