May 9, 2014 in City

Idaho State Police trooper accused of theft, fraud, forgery

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A 19-year veteran of the Idaho State Police has been suspended without pay after investigators allege he stockpiled more than 15,000 rounds of stolen service ammunition and several SWAT-issued grenades.

Daniel Howard, 48, has been on leave from the ISP since December, when Kootenai County investigators told the ISP they were building a case of theft, fraud and forgery. Howard has been charged in both Kootenai and Bonner counties.

He is accused of felony theft and two misdemeanor charges in Kootenai County, including hunting a deer without validating tags.

In Bonner County, prosecutors accuse him of using a false name to obtain a motorcycle title, grand theft and forgery.

Howard’s attorney, Chris Bugbee, said his client is cooperating with investigators.

“Mr. Howard maintains his innocence,” Bugbee said in a written statement. “We are confident that this matter will be resolved favorably to him as this case progresses.”

Deputies in Kootenai County searched Howard’s home in Athol in December, according to court documents. They found sealed cases of ammunition that matched bullets used by the ISP. The boxes were stashed in a pole barn near the home, with a piece of plywood obscuring them from view, according to investigators.

More than 15,000 rounds of ammunition were cataloged and photographed. However, authorities did not have a warrant to seize the bullets, so they were left in the pole barn.

Investigators also found a 2012 Harley-Davidson motorcycle inside the pole barn. Documentation found at the home showed Howard reported paying $500 for the motorcycle when he applied for a title in Bonner County.

But the motorcycle’s seller, an 80-year-old veteran of the Portland Police Bureau, told investigators he sold the bike for something closer to $18,500. He said the wheels alone were worth more than $500, according to court documents.

Detectives suspect Howard avoided paying more than $1,100 in taxes by doctoring his bill of sale.

Investigators also discovered two deer carcasses on the property, one of which was being picked at by Howard’s dog, according to court documents. A state Fish and Game District agent confirmed with investigators Howard reported the kills but did not properly tag one of the carcasses before transporting it.

Officials also searched Howard’s patrol car. Two smoke grenades, two “flashbang” distraction-style grenades and one pepper-spray grenade were found inside. Deputies contacted an ISP lieutenant, who said the grenades appeared similar to those used by the agency’s now-disbanded SWAT team. The lieutenant told investigators team members were required to turn in all their equipment.

Howard retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1989, five years before he joined the ISP, according to investigators. Kootenai County investigators reached out to an FBI agent who also served in the Marines. The agent said it was possible the grenades were taken from the military but unlikely due to the Corps’ strict inventory procedures. The grenades were also manufactured in the mid-’90s and early 2000s, after Howard had left the Marines, according to investigators.

About three weeks after the initial search, detectives returned to the Athol home with a warrant to seize ammunition. But the boxes had been moved from the pole barn, according to court documents. Some of the ammunition was later returned through a deal between Kootenai County and Howard’s attorney, but an estimated 14,000 rounds, valued at more than $5,500, remained missing as of January.

Howard’s work as an Idaho trooper included the fatal shooting of a female fugitive from Montana. She was in a car attempting to elude being pulled over for speeding in north Kootenai County in February 2011.

Mark Marion Maykopet rammed Howard’s patrol car during the chase. Howard responded by firing into the car, killing Maykopet’s wife, Christie O’Leary. Ada County prosecutors did not file charges against Howard and a federal civil lawsuit in the case is pending appeal.

Howard is scheduled to appear at court hearings in both counties next week. The ISP said in a news release that if Howard is found guilty in the matters it would result in his firing.


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