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Idaho

CdA civic booster busted on cocaine charge

A prominent Coeur d’Alene insurance agent and school booster spent the weekend in jail after being arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession.

Investigators raided a storage center behind Jerry S. Carlson’s office Friday evening and booked him into the Kootenai County Jail on a criminal conspiracy charge after finding about 5 grams of cocaine, said Idaho State Police Lt. Curtis Kastens.

Carlson appeared in court Tuesday afternoon on a possession of a controlled substance charge stemming from a small amount of cocaine found in his pocket, Kastens said. Cocaine possession is a felony.

The raid behind his office at 7736 N. Government Way was part of an investigation that ISP hopes to complete by the end of the month.

More charges against Carlson are pending, and other arrests are possible, Kastens said. “We’re still in the process of sorting this out,” he said.

First District Judge Penny Friedlander set Carlson’s bond Tuesday at $10,000, which he posted.

His lawyer, Scot Nass, described Carlson, 47, as a lifelong Coeur d’Alene resident with strong community ties.

“He’s been a successful businessman his whole life,” Nass said, urging Friedlander to impose a low bond. “… It seems to me that a drug court situation would be appropriate given the circumstances.”

Nass and Carlson’s wife, Jackie, declined to speak with a reporter after the court hearing.

Carlson graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1980 and earned a degree in business management and finance from the University of Idaho in 1985.

His business is the top Farmers Insurance agency in Idaho, Nass said in court, and he’s a longtime supporter of the Coeur d’Alene High School Vikings booster club and the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

“He’s just been a great supporter of the whole community,” said Randy Russell, principal of Coeur d’Alene High.

“He’s been nothing but a phenomenal supporter of this school district.”

A banner with Carlson’s picture hangs in the Coeur d’Alene High gym, declaring him the 2006-’07 booster of the year and thanking him for his support “towards continuing the Viking Pride tradition.”

He’s such a prominent Viking supporter that people noticed when he wasn’t at the boys basketball game Friday night, said athletic director Todd Gilkey.

School administrators were nearly speechless when they learned of his arrest Tuesday.

“I’m shocked,” Russell said.

The principal said he’d wait for the justice system to do its work before he commented further.

“You don’t want to jump to any conclusions until you have all the facts,” Russell said.

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at meghannc@spokesman.com.


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