More than you bargained for

“Our City” by A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

Sometimes you get more than you bargained for. Sometimes that’s a good thing and then again it may not be so good. In the case of the Eastern Idaho Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) those of us living in eastern Idaho in counties from Fremont to Cassia to Bear Lake, we received considerably more than we bargained for; it was an investment well-made and I suspect that those who were charged and convicted got way more than they bargained for in terms of prison time and other penalties.

Through Jan. 23, 2018 a total of 75 defendants were indicted or are awaiting trial; 40 have been sentenced to a combined 2,391 months’ imprisonment; eight are awaiting sentencing; 21 are pending trial or arrest; 53 of the 75 cases involve drugs (51 meth, 5 heroin, 5 marijuana); and 28 of the 75 cases involve a firearm and/or ammunition. Indictments were made in 12 cities and 10 counties; although they involved 18 cities and 12 counties.

Of the 75 individuals who have been indicted 34 are at various stages of prosecution. About $1,082,300 worth of drugs has been seized in cases presently indicted. The drugs seized include 10,025 grams of methamphetamine (50,125 individual uses) value about $1,002,500; and 228 grams of heroin (2,280 individual uses) worth about $79,800. Additionally, 41 firearms have been seized and will be administratively, civilly, or criminally forfeited as a result of the cases presently indicted. The 40 defendants have been sentenced to a total of 2,391 months, with an average sentence of 67.3 months. Eight additional defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The combined 2,391 months’ imprisonment will result in an estimated cost savings of $4,188,840 by the Idaho Department of Corrections.

Close to home here in American Falls and Power County the SAUSA took another pedophile off the streets and out of our community. As I wrote last summer: on July 12, 2017, Jesus Nieto, 20, of American Falls, Idaho, was sentenced in United States District Court to 300 months (25 years) in prison for enticing and coercing two underage girls, followed by 15 years of supervised release.

Every so often those in public service are asked to invest in something they may not fully comprehend the true value of. Which was exactly how our city council felt when they voted to make an annual payment to the SAUSA for eastern Idaho. What we understood about the SAUSA program was that it was supposed to put bad people away for a really long time in a federal penitentiary without the possibility of parole. In the case of Jesus Nieto it did exactly that. Again, I extend my thanks on behalf of the victims and the community of American Falls to U.S. Attorney Rafael Gonzalez and U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill for helping to make American Falls a better place to live.

Then again, every so often something really cool happens and you get way more than you bargained for because selfless people volunteer to help make life better for others. It started as just an idea I had last summer. Our local Magistrate Judge Paul Laggis put me in contact with Korey Mereness, the Director of Adult Education at Idaho State University, who was trying to increase adult education here in American Falls. In the weeks and months to come I will tell you more about one of the coolest and most heartwarming things I have had the privilege of being a small part of and the eight bilingual students who in no small way are choosing to make American Falls the very best place to live.

Until next week…

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