January 29, 2010 in Idaho

Hearing reveals that contractor helped bust Carlson

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Before he was sentenced last year, a former Bayview, Idaho, contractor now serving time in federal prison for selling marijuana helped federal drug agents bust a once-prominent Coeur d’Alene insurance agent and school booster.

That insurance agent, Jerald S. “Jerry” Carlson, 47, pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony charge of attempting to possess cocaine with intent to deliver in a plea deal that dismissed two other felony cocaine charges.

Carlson’s plea avoided a trial in which an acquaintance who sold him the cocaine that led to his arrest, Theodore L. Bruck, was scheduled to testify.

Idaho State Police detectives began investigating Bruck, 53, in 2005 after a man who claimed to work for him was arrested in Arizona with about 100 pounds of marijuana, according to court documents.

Bruck pleaded guilty in October 2008 to charges related to the distribution of thousands of pounds of marijuana from at least 2000 to April 2008. He’s now serving nearly 7 years in a federal prison in California.

Months before Bruck was ordered to prison, Carlson wrote a letter to a judge describing contracting work Bruck had performed for him over the years. Carlson called Bruck, who had a previous federal marijuana conviction, “very reputable and trustworthy.”

Bruck was out on bond before his sentencing last February, which took place shortly after Carlson’s arrest. .

Thursday’s hearing showed Bruck arranged that arrest. Federal agents recorded phone calls between the men, and Bruck arranged to deliver a kilogram of cocaine — which turned out to be fake — to Carlson for $2,000 at his insurance company.

Law enforcement arrived to find Carlson trying to flush the drugs down the toilet.

On Thursday, Carlson’s lawyer, Jim Siebe, said federal prosecutors “presumed” Carlson intended to sell the cocaine because the quantity was more than 500 grams.

Carlson was arrested with a small baggie of cocaine in his pocket and jailed for the weekend before appearing in Kootenai County District Court. He was indicted in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene later that week.

As part of the plea deal approved Thursday, Carlson also agreed to pay $20,000 in forfeiture.

Prosecutors seek forfeiture of properties, cash and other assets they feel were obtained with money gained from criminal activity.

Bruck was ordered to pay forfeiture, too — $1 million and several properties in Bonner County, including one that had been transferred Carlson, according to court documents.

Carlson was contesting that forfeiture before he was arrested.

Carlson, a lifelong Coeur d’Alene resident, was such a well-known booster at Coeur d’Alene High School that administrators noticed when he wasn’t at the varsity boy’s basketball game the night of his arrest.

A banner hung in the school’s gym declaring him the school’s booster of the year for 2006-07.

Carlson’s Farmers insurance business closed after his arrest.

Last month, he appeared in a full-page newspaper advertisement for a Hayden, Idaho fitness center touting his weight loss.

In it, he called his February arrest a “life-shattering event” that encouraged him to get in shape.

He’ll be sentenced April 14. He faces 5 to 40 years in prison.


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