Idaho v. OlsenAnnotate this Case
Blair Olsen served as sheriff of Jefferson County from January 1989 until May 2015, when he resigned due to his conviction in this case. While he was the sheriff, the county provided Olsen with two cell phones and paid the bills for those phones. It initially did so because of unreliable service in different sides of the county. He also carried a personal cell phone and paid the charges for that service plan from his own funds. Once county-wide coverage was available from one of the providers, he discontinued service with the other provider and had both of his county-provided cell phones with the same provider. One cell phone was to be his primary cell phone and the other was to be his backup cell phone. At the same time, he terminated his personal cell phone service, but had the telephone number of his personal cell phone transferred to the backup cell phone. At some point, he permitted his wife to carry the backup cell phone for her personal use. The issue of Olsen’s wife using the backup cell phone became an election issue. Olsen asked the county commissioners to refer the matter to the Attorney General in an attempt to clear his name. A deputy attorney general obtained an indictment against Olsen charging him with three felony counts of knowingly using public money to make purchases for personal purposes based upon his wife’s use of the backup cell phone. Prior to trial, Olsen moved to dismiss the indictment or merge the three counts into one on the ground that the prosecution for three counts violated his right against double jeopardy. The charges were tried to a jury, and Olsen was found guilty of all three counts. The district court withheld judgment and placed Olsen on three years’ probation, and he appealed. The district court ruled that "I think the statute gives the prosecutor very clearly a substantial amount of discretion that says that the incidents may be aggregated into one count, but it doesn’t say they have to be aggregated into one count." In so holding, Supreme Court found that the district court erred. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of one count of misuse of public funds and remanded this case to vacate two other counts and amend the order withholding judgment accordingly.