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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 21, 2016

Eastern Idaho Partnership Announces Special AUSA Program Statistics

New Special Assistant United States Attorney Has Charged 38 Defendants Since January 2016

POCATELLO – United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson and Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney Cleve B. Colson announced today that from January 2016 through October 31, 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted an additional 38 offenders for gun and drug-related crimes committed in eastern Idaho through the new Special Assistant United States Attorney program (SAUSA program) in eastern Idaho. 

“Prosecution of these 38 offenders was made possible through the collaborative vision of the Eastern Idaho Partnership, the State of Idaho, the Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and this office,” said Olson.  “We are working cooperatively to make our eastern Idaho communities safer and stronger.  The success of this program demonstrates that we can do more when we do it together.  We are maximizing public safety and efficiently using taxpayer resources. The first ten months of this program have been a clear success.”

The eastern Idaho SAUSA program is sponsored by the Eastern Idaho Partnership (EIP), a coalition of local city and county officials in eastern Idaho.  The EIP provides approximately 30 percent of the SAUSA’s salary and benefits; the State of Idaho through the Idaho Department of Correction contributes the remaining 70 percent.     

James R. Dalton, the current eastern Idaho SAUSA, was hired in January 2016.  He is a Bingham County deputy prosecutor who works in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pocatello full-time and focuses on internet based crimes against children, gun and gang violence, drug trafficking, fraud and other white collar crime, terrorism, identity theft, and immigration offenses affecting eastern Idaho.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office lends its prosecution authority to the SAUSA and provides office and related overhead expenses, as well as training and mentoring.  After the defendants are convicted in federal court, they are sentenced to federal prisons throughout the country, far from their criminal associates.  Thus far, three of the 38 charged have been sentenced to a total of 355 months in federal prison and many more will be sentenced in the coming months.   

Special AUSA Dalton works with a wide variety of state, county and city law enforcement agencies in eastern Idaho.  Through the eastern SAUSA program, these agencies have developed a model of cooperative law enforcement, where federal, state, county and city law enforcement agencies work side-by-side investigating specific crimes in eastern Idaho.  The regional approach allows officers, prosecutors and federal, state, county, and city officials to focus limited resources and leverage federal sentencing to disrupt area criminal activity that often spans multiple counties in eastern Idaho.  One of the goals of the program is to disrupt local criminal networks by sending offenders to federal prison, out-of-state, and reduce local criminal activity.

Bingham County Prosecutor Cleve Colson also touted the program as, “an effective partnership between law enforcement agencies and the community to stop the flow of illegal drugs, reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals, and eradicate the criminal gang activity that can be so destructive in our communities.”

Blackfoot Police Department Chief of Police Kurt Asmus expressed, “The partnership between local agencies and the USAO has been very beneficial.  Not only does this remove the offender from this area, but there are cost savings for local and state budgets.”

Brandon Wilkinson, American Falls Police Chief, stated, “The partnership has assisted our community in providing federal resources that we have never had in a specific case for a crime against a local child.  This new partnership has become very valuable in providing safety to our community.” 

American Falls Mayor Marc Beitia added, “The partnership and SAUSA are collectively making our community safer for all of us, especially our children.”

The EIP sponsored Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in eastern Idaho marks the first expansion of the regional SAUSA program in Idaho.  The regional SAUSA program was started in 2007 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and by state and local leaders to address increasing gang activity and violence in southwest Idaho.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office, together with the Treasure Valley Partnership, the State of Idaho, and later, the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office, came together to fund and support the creation of a deputy prosecuting attorney position, whose sole focus would be to investigate and prosecute gang-related offenses in federal court.  The expansion of the regional SAUSA program in Idaho is reflective of the positive changes that take place throughout our communities when local, state and federal agencies are able to work together. 

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Updated November 21, 2016