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Former chief deputy charged with misappropriating government funds file photo
PRESTON — A former chief deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office faces a misdemeanor charge following an investigation by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
Joshua B. Purser, 36, has been charged with petty theft following an investigation into claims that he was filing fraudulent timesheets.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office was referred to the allegations by Franklin County Prosecutor Vic Pearson in September, due to a potential conflict of interest, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
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The state investigator was informed of possible timesheet fraud involving the sheriff’s office’s boat inspection station, the affidavit says. It was alleged Purser had signed up to work overtime inspecting watercraft for invasive species, but had not been working.
Because it was overtime hours, Purser was being paid a rate of time-and-a-half — or $45.61 per hour, according to the affidavit.
Several witnesses told the state investigator that Purser remained an hourly employee when he was promoted to chief deputy, so he could continue working overtime.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is contracted with the Idaho Department of Agriculture to man a boat check station near mile marker 2 on U.S. Highway 91. Deputies can sign up for extra shifts manning that station, with hours filed through a timesheet log.
Several deputies told the investigator that, according to a “verbal policy,” all deputies checked in and out of work through dispatch. Dispatchers, the affidavit says, would then log the deputies in or out on the law enforcement database — Spillman.
When deputies sign up for an overtime shift at the boat check station, they are expected to “be physically at the boat check station” for a five-hour shift, one Franklin deputy told the investigator.
One deputy who spoke with the investigator questioned Purser’s reported hours, based on when he would sign on- and off-duty and when his patrol vehicle was parked at his home.
According to Purser’s timesheet, he had been working his normal 10-hour shift, then an additional five hours at the boat check station.
The deputy told the investigator that, based on his radio traffic, Purser would log five hours at the boat check station while working no more than three. The deputy told the investigator that numerous deputies had complained about seeing Purser’s patrol vehicle parked at his home during his shift.
The deputy called it “common knowledge” that Purser would be at home during his shift, beginning before Purser was made chief deputy. It caused one deputy to quit, the affidavit says.
During an interview with the investigator, Purser allegedly acknowledged the policy that deputies were required to sign in and out of duty through dispatch. However, he added, he did not always sign in. He told the investigator that he would occasionally drive around “making sure his deputies were working after they signed into duty,” the affidavit says.
Additionally, Purser told the investigator that he would not always sign out of duty through dispatch after completing a shift at the boat check station, the affidavit says.
The investigator informed Purser that some of the civilian boat inspection employees had not seen him at the station during shifts he’d reportedly worked.
Purser told the investigator that he would occasionally park at a park near the station and monitor it from there.
Purser denied “ever knowingly” logging hours he had not worked.
The investigator then confronted him about shifts when Purser logged 10 hours but had zero radio activity, no Spillman logins or door access history.
Purser responded, saying he understood that it looked bad but claimed he had done nothing wrong.
The investigator spoke with Franklin County Sheriff Dave Fryar the same day.
Fryar said he was unaware of any discrepancies or issues regarding Purser’s work history. Fryar said he knew Purser to be an “honest person.”
The investigator then asked Fryar about Pursers timesheets, some of which had Fryar’s wet signature while others were stamped. Fryar said that as chief deputy Purser was authorized to use a signature stamp when the sheriff is not available.
Fryar also said that signing on- and off-duty through dispatch was an office-wide policy that he follows and expects all deputies, including Purser, to follow.
The investigator compared Purser’s timesheet for the months of April to September 2022 to surveillance video from the boat check station and Purser’s cell phone data.
In total, the investigator determined that 99 hours were reported on Purser’s timesheet over that period in which Purser was not at the boat check station. The total pay for that time, according to the affidavit, was $4,512.39.
The investigator also identified several periods during which Purser logged regular, non-overtime hours that he did not work. The total pay for those hours, according to the affidavit, was $3,373.90.
According to the affidavit, the investigator claimed there to be sufficient probable cause to charge Purser with felony grand theft. Rather than a felony though, Purser has been charged with a misdemeanor for petty theft.
Though Purser has been charged with this crime, it does not necessarily mean he committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.
Purser’s current status at the sheriff’s office is unknown.
If he is found guilty of his accused crime, Purser could face up to one year in jail.
He is scheduled for a change of plea hearing on April 18, when he is expected to plead guilty. If he does enter a guilty plea, he will be sentenced at the same hearing.
The post Former chief deputy charged with misappropriating government funds appeared first on East Idaho News.

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