Two new felony grand theft cases were filed last month in Blaine County 5th District Court. In one, a theater manager is accused of keeping a night's receipts of more than $1,300, and in the other a man is accused of stealing a snowmobile trailer valued at $2,000.
Neither 22-year-old Michael T. Bernam nor 25-year-old Shawn Paulson were arrested. Instead, a felony summons was issued to each.
Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas explained in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express that "sometimes a summons is issued as opposed to an arrest warrant if the case is older and we are not concerned that the defendant will flee the jurisdiction."
The penalty for grand theft in Idaho is up to 14 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Michael T. Bernam
Bernam was charged with grand theft on Aug. 4. He allegedly kept $1,379 in cash receipts on Dec. 21 that were supposed to be deposited into a bank account of Big Wood 4 Cinema in Hailey.
Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter said Bernam was a night manager who was supposed to put the night's receipts in a company bank account on the following morning but allegedly failed to do so. He said the case was not prosecuted for several months because the company was initially reluctant to pursue charges.
Bernam made an initial court appearance in Blaine County Magistrate Court on Aug. 29. Hailey attorney Christopher Simms was appointed public defender.
According to court records, Bernam waived a preliminary hearing that was scheduled for Sept. 14, and Judge R. Ted Israel ordered the case bound over to district court for further prosecution. District court arraignment had not been scheduled as of Monday.
Paulson was charged with grand theft on Aug. 2 for allegedly stealing a snowmobile trailer from a residence on Buttercup Road north of Hailey. Court records show a Honolulu, Hawaii, address for Paulson; however, evidence presented at a preliminary hearing on Aug. 30 states he was staying in Hailey at the time of the alleged theft.
Buttercup Road resident James Mizer testified at the hearing that his snowmobile trailer was taken sometime between May 18 and May 20. Mizer reported the theft to the Blaine County Sheriff's Office on May 21, but testified in court that he found it on June 3 parked near an apartment building on River Street in Hailey.
Sheriff's Deputy William Ward testified at the hearing that when questioned, Paulson first told him that he purchased the trailer for $300 from a man named "Luis" in Bellevue. Ward testified that Paulson later acknowledged taking the trailer from the Mizer residence to haul an "inoperable" car from Hailey to Portland, Ore.
Simms, who is representing Paulson, argued at the hearing that Paulson only borrowed the trailer and intended to return it and that the case should be dismissed.
Judge Israel, however, disagreed, ruling that Paulson's initial claim that he purchased the trailer for $300 showed intent to keep it. Israel ordered the case to be bound over to district court for further prosecution.
Arraignment in district court has been scheduled for Oct. 24.
Terry Smith: email@example.com