Herman “Les” Eaves, former Clearwater County Ambulance Director, appeared for sentencing before Judge Gregory FitzMaurice at Clearwater County Courthouse on Tuesday, March 24.
Eaves is charged with one count of grand theft by embezzlement, in excess of $1,000. The complaint filed April 23, 2019 specifically alleges over $30,000 to have been taken from Clearwater County Ambulance Service between Jan. 1, 2015 and July 31, 2018.
Attorney William Fitzgerald, public defender representing Eaves, asked that the plea agreement include consideration for his client’s age and pending health issues in determining an appropriate sentence. He noted that Eaves’ actions were in part prompted by his wife’s declining health and rising healthcare costs.
Fitzgerald noted that when Eaves began adjusting payments, it started justifiably, Eaves was not spending the money on gambling or drug addiction. He asked that the judge withhold judgement, so that once restitution is made, Eaves will be able to petition the courts to have the case dropped.
Jessica Uhrig, Nez Perce Deputy Prosecutor is representing the state due to a conflict of interest with the prosecutor of Clearwater County, and attended the sentencing telephonically.
Uhrig was concerned that restitution and probation were not sufficient punishment for the seriousness of the crime or much of a deterrent for Eaves or others who would steal money from their employers.
Uhrig asked for local jail time to be included in the sentence. She said she was aware that Eaves would not be eligible for his social security payment if he were to spend in excess of 29 days a month in jail, and suggested that the jail time be spread out over a period of time, so he could still be eligible for payments from social security.
Judge FitzMaurice stated that he tended to agree with Uhrig in her assessment that Eaves hadn’t really owned up to his actions, and blamed the county instead for what he felt was wrong.
“You were only charged with one count, but you made that decision to take what didn’t belong to you on many occasions,” said FitzMaurice.
Eaves was sentenced to 10 years of supervised probation, ordered to pay restitution of $25,000, and serve 112 days of jail time. As COVID-19 is a concern for all incoming inmates, he is to begin serving 14 days a month beginning in September of 2020 and continuing each month until May of 2021. By serving 14 days per month, Eaves will still be eligible to receive his social security benefits. FitzMaurice said he would also withhold judgement, so once the sentence has been served and the restitution paid in full, the charges may be dropped.