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Rammell pleads guilty to contempt, gets probation, fine

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell has pleaded guilty to criminal contempt and will serve nine months of probation to end a case that started when he was arrested for tampering with jurors in his poaching trial. In an agreement reached with the Bonneville County prosecutor's office, Rammell pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was given a withheld judgment, meaning the conviction can be erased from his record if he completes terms of the sentence. Rammell, a former elk rancher who also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008, was charged in May with a felony for attempting to influence jurors. He was charged after he passed out leaflets from the Fully Informed Jury Association to potential jurors called to serve on his elk poaching case.

The plea agreement not only ended Rammell's latest legal tiff, but also ensured he can pursue political office without having to wait to clear a felony from his record. "I still believe that what I did was innocent and harmless and not against the law, but a guy has to pick and choose his battles," Rammell said. "This is a battle for someone else for another day." The judge also ordered Rammell to pay $500 in fines, but suspended $250.

Rammell ran last year in the GOP gubernatorial primary, finishing second with 26 percent of the vote to incumbent C.L. "Butch" Otter. He lost in the primary in 2008 in his bid for the GOP nomination in the race for an open U.S. Senate seat, ultimately won by Jim Risch.

Rammell said moving past the jury tampering case enables him to focus instead on appealing his conviction in the poaching case. He was convicted July 1 of unlawful possession of wildlife for killing an elk in November in a different hunting zone than allowed on his hunting tag. "There are issues in that case that I am still furious about," Rammell said. "I think I can prove that I did not get a fair trial."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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