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Cooperative prosecution program proves effective

The two-year-old Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) program helped prosecute 75 additional offenders in eastern Idaho. The program began in January 2016 and marked its anniversary on January 23, 2018.

The prosecution included cases involving firearm, illegal alien, child porn, violent crime and drug-related crimes.

40 of the 75 charged have so-far been convicted and received criminal sentences averaging 5.7 years. The 75 indictments were referred from 13 cities and 10 counties. The charges represent over $1,082,000 in seized drugs and 41 illegally possessed firearms.

Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney Cleve B. Colson said the average cost of incarceration per Idaho prison inmate per year is approximately $20,973 or $1,747 per month. The 2,391 months of federal sentences recorded by the SAUSA represents about $4,188,000 in cost savings to the Idaho Department of Corrections, if Idaho was to have picked up the jail costs.

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. The project allows law enforcement to utilize federal sentences to see that persistent and violent criminals receive stiffer penalties than they might in state courts. Federal sentences are served out of-of-state, helping to disrupt criminal networks. Special AUSA Bryan Wheat says “the net result we strive for is to help Eastern Idaho continue to be a wonderful, safe place to live.”

Wheat is a Bingham County deputy prosecutor who works in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pocatello full-time. Wheat works with state and federal law enforcement to prosecute internet based crimes against children, gun and gang violence, drug trafficking, fraud and other white-collar crime as well as terrorism, identity theft, and immigration offenses in eastern Idaho.

United States Attorney Bart Davis said that, “Idaho is best served when local, state, and federal law enforcement cooperatively work together. This task force model, strongly supported by eastern Idaho communities and leaders, reduces violent crime. That is the purpose of Idaho’s reinvigorated Project Safe Neighborhoods program. My office is pleased to join the communities of southeast Idaho in this important endeavor.”

Daniel Clark, Prosecuting Attorney for Bonneville County, said that “the Eastern Idaho Partnership has been a great additional tool in our efforts to protect the citizens of Bonneville County and of southeast Idaho. The partnership has resulted in cost savings to state agencies and is a great example of the cooperation of the state and federal agencies in order to focus our efforts to remove the most dangerous criminals from our communities.”

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