A Spokane County jury Thursday acquitted a Shadle Park High School teacher of forgery charges.
Jurors deliberated for two hours before deciding that Thomas Casto, 37, did not use a school computer to help a student make a bogus driver’s license.
Police filed the charges last fall after a 17-year-old was caught using a false ID to buy alcohol.
The student said Casto, who teaches Spanish, showed him how to use a computer to manipulate images and dates.
Casto has been on paid leave pending the outcome of the Superior Court trial. An additional computer-trespass charge was dismissed last month.
Defense attorney Carl Oreskovich said jurors believed Casto’s account of what happened: The student was caught with the false ID, then fabricated a story implicating Casto to shift the blame.
If convicted, Casto faced up to five years in prison.
Oreskovich defended Casto with the very evidence prosecutors used against his client. He showed the jury how computer disks include information on the time and date files are created.
Prosecutors accused Casto of using a school computer and one at his home to assist the student in making the bogus ID.
But Oreskovich demonstrated that the files in question were created on computers at times when Casto was neither at the school nor at home.
“Tom Casto is an optimistic, energetic teacher who always looks for the good in people,” Oreskovich said. “We presented that to the jury, and one of the jurors said after the verdict they hoped Tom did not lose that (quality) because of this case.”