Friday, July 11, 2008

Charges dog Rapport

Former Ketchum official also faces Montana assault charge

Express Staff Writer

Top: Gary Rapport, California booking photo Bottom: Gary Rapport, Blaine County booking photo

The former head of the Ketchum Community Development Corporation is accused in California of stealing money from his former employer.

He's also accused in Montana of strangling his wife.

It's been quite a week for 50-year-old Gary Rapport. On Monday he was earning a six-figure salary as executive director of CDC. On Tuesday he resigned after allegations surfaced of a felony burglary charge in California. He was arrested later that day on a California warrant and spent that evening in the Blaine County Jail.

Rapport was charged Wednesday in Blaine County Magistrate Court with being a fugitive from justice. He remained incarcerated on Thursday, unable to come up with the $150,000 bond he needs to get out of jail.

Out-of-state criminal charges

The burglary charge out of California dates back to 1997 when Rapport allegedly stole money from Leisure World Market, a grocery store in Seal Beach. A detective who investigated the case declined to say how much Rapport allegedly stole, but told the Idaho Mountain Express on Thursday that Rapport had formerly been employed at Leisure World but was not employed at the store when the theft occurred.

"There was no force in taking the money; he just took it," alleged Seal Beach Detective Gary Krogman, who explained that under California law the charge of burglary is defined as entering an establishment with the intent of stealing something.

Krogman said Rapport was a suspect in the theft, but couldn't be located until 2001, when he voluntarily surrendered to authorities.

"He turned himself in, had a couple of court dates, posted bail and just disappeared," said Krogman. "We've been looking for him for 11 years."

An arrest warrant was issued for Rapport in June of 2002 when he failed to appear for a preliminary hearing on the charge. He was free on $15,000 bond at the time.

Seal Beach authorities became aware of Rapport's whereabouts when they were contacted earlier this week by the Ketchum Police Department.

Blaine County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said that Rapport also faces an aggravated assault charge in, Bozeman, Mont., where Rapport lived prior to moving to Ketchum.

The Times-News reported in its Thursday edition that the charge stems back to Dec. 25, 2007 when Rapport allegedly "strangled his wife until she was unconscious." The Times-News further quoted court records and reported that Rapport is scheduled for trial on the charge on Sept. 11.

Fredback said Thursday that he is not aware of any other charges against Rapport. He said Rapport is only charged in Blaine County with being a fugitive from justice.

Fugitive from justice

Rapport was arraigned on the charge Wednesday afternoon before Judge Mark Ingram, who presided over the hearing via telephone hookup from his office in Shoshone.

Ingram set bond at $150,000 and appointed the Roark Law Firm of Hailey to represent Rapport under its public defender contract with Blaine County. Firm attorney Kevin Cassidy represented Rapport at Wednesday's hearing.

Cassidy told the court that Rapport will fight extradition to California and requested an "identification hearing," which Ingram scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on July 17.

In arguing for a lower bond, Cassidy told the court that his client's employment with CDC is not necessarily finished.

"He has tendered his resignation, but it is my understanding in talking with Mr. Rapport that his employment may not be over with those folks," Cassidy said. "His good name will be cleared of these charges."

Ingram rejected Cassidy's request that bond be set at $20,000 and followed Fredback's recommendation instead.

"I'm concerned about the nature of the current charge, the fact that there is a no bond warrant out of another state," said Ingram. "I'm going to err on the side of the state and set bond at $150,000."

Ingram said he will reconsider bond at the July 17 court hearing.

Rapport remains incarcerated

Meanwhile, Rapport remained incarcerated Thursday afternoon in the Blaine County Jail.

"The bond is so high that any bail bondsmen would need property for security," said Melissa Roemer, an agent for Hometown Bail Bonds in Hailey. "It's my understanding that the couple personally doesn't own any."

Roemer and Rick Filkins, president of American Eagle Bail Bonds in Ketchum, attended Rapport's court hearing on Wednesday but neither was willing to put up the money for Rapport's release.

Rapport's wife, Yanti Ibrahim, was contacting bail bondsmen throughout the area on Thursday in an attempt to get her husband out of jail.

Rapport and Ibrahim, who is from Indonesia, have three children at home ages 3, 9 and 12. Rapport reported in his request for a public defender that the couple pays $1,475 rent per month at their home in Ketchum. He further reported that he made $30,000 last year and owes $9,000 in Bozeman for heart surgery.

Rapport reportedly earned a six-figure salary while serving as CDC executive director, but Board Chairman Neil Bradshaw declined to release the amount. However, Tom Hudson, Rapport's predecessor earned $175,000 annually as the executive director of CDC.

Rapport had only been full-time executive director of the CDC since May, but had served as a consultant to the corporation since February when he was still living in Bozeman. The CDC reported in a press release earlier this week that a criminal background check was not conducted on Rapport because he was "hired on a contract basis."

CDC further reported that Rapport's work with the Corporation was "stellar, and there were absolutely no problems, or hint of misconduct."

The CDC only became aware of the criminal charges against Rapport this week, but Ketchum police have alleged that Rapport knew there was a California warrant for his arrest before he was taken into custody on Tuesday evening.

"Sgt. (Dave) Kassner told Rapport that there was a warrant for his arrest, and he said that he knew this," Ketchum Detective R. Scott Manning wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed in Blaine County 5th District Court.

"He (Rapport) then said that he thought that the warrant was not extraditable, and that he could not be arrested for it. I informed him that this was no longer the case," Manning wrote.

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