Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Sunday, September 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 48° Clear
News >  Crime/Public Safety

North Idaho Eagles leader swept up in child sex sting had extensive business and social connections

Former Coeur d’Alene Fraternal Order of Eagles president Ronald Nold – twice convicted of child sex crimes before he went on to hold leadership positions in at least six other Eagles posts around Idaho – will plead guilty to a criminal charge related to an internet sting operation in which a police officer posed as a teen boy, his attorney said in a court hearing.

The 65-year-old continued to work from his office Wednesday in the lobby of Heatherstone, a senior home community he manages in Hayden. The maximum sentence is 15 years in prison for the charge filed against him, that of felony enticing a child through use of the internet.

Nold, who has also spent time imprisoned for embezzlement, handles the community’s books and payments and enforces regulations. Heatherstone’s voicemail greeting for its primary phone number – “Hi, this is Ron at Heatherstone” – speaks to the importance of his role.

Nold is also the accountant for a number of local businesses, according to documents obtained by the Idaho Secretary of State, most using the Heatherstone address on their state filing forms; and is a self-proclaimed Bible study teacher who goes on mission trips to the Philippines, as told in a police report following his August arrest.

In that same police report, Nold reportedly took a polygraph test and was asked if he had sexual contact with children within the last 10 years. He answered no and failed the lie detector test.

His affiliation with charitable organizations, work for wealthy business people and role with religious organizations has drawn scrutiny.

“He is a very intelligent man; a great salesman and accountant,” said Athol Baptist Church pastor Chris Antone, who said Nold did the church’s books. “And he utilizes that to foster trust he doesn’t deserve.”

Some residents at the Heatherstone community and people associated with the Eagles said Nold’s sex offender history – one that pops up in a Google search and lists his crimes in Oregon and Washington in the early 1990s – is no secret.

“When I worked at the Eagles, everyone was fully aware that he was a registered sex offender,” said Tonya Mahoney, a former bartender at the Coeur d’Alene Eagles where Nold held office a few years ago.

“The Christmas party that he was Santa at was just a few months before I started working there,” she said, “and everyone was talking about how disgusting it was that he had kids sitting on his lap.”

Nold hasn’t held office at the Coeur d’Alene Eagles since 2015 and, in light of the most recent allegations, current Coeur d’Alene Eagles president Dustin Okon says Nold isn’t allowed on the post’s property.

The Hayden Eagles, where Nold has been listed as the secretary since 2013, didn’t return requests for an interview.

According to 2017 documents, Nold is also listed as a director and officer, including vice president of the Post Falls chapter; a director in Payette and Nampa; and the treasurer in Caldwell. A filing processed Nov. 11 lists Nold as the secretary of the Idaho State Aerie, the Eagle’s central office for Idaho.

Because his trial is pending, he is still an Eagle, according to the organization’s national office in Ohio.

“As a result of the initial piece published by The Spokesman-Review, The Grand Aerie of the Fraternal Order of Eagles is now fully aware of the allegations against Ronald Nold and in no way, shape or form, condones the actions of which Mr. Nold has been accused,” the national Eagles said in a statement. “While Mr. Nold is technically still a member of the Order, the first step in the formal process toward the changing of his membership status has been taken.”

Nold’s tenure with the Eagles had been successful. In 2015, he led the nation in Eagles membership recruiting according to Soar, the organization’s monthly publication.

Nold had wealthy connections

When 70-year-old Johnny Aker heard his property manager was a two-time child sex offender, he told neighbors and set out to learn more.

Nold ran the Heatherstone community with an iron fist, Aker said, and scared many of its tenants. So he jumped at the opportunity to expose his criminal past.

In 2015, Aker and a neighbor created a file of their findings and presented it to Heatherstone’s owner, prominent North Idaho oil and land dealer Del Kerr.

The Kerr family’s home and ranch, according to state documents, borders Heatherstone on Honeysuckle Road in Hayden.

But Kerr didn’t budge, Aker said.

“We wanted to make damn sure Kerr knew (about Nold),” Aker said. “We did everything we could. Kerr just told me ‘Well, John, once I go with someone in my companies, I stick by them all the way and don’t interfere with their job.’ ”

Months later, Nold kicked Aker and his wife out of the housing community, Aker said, forcing them to scramble for a place they could afford.

“We were good tenants. Never missed a payment and I always helped my neighbors, but they can kick you out if they don’t even like the color of your eyes,” Aker said. “People in there got scared after that happened. Some people there are still scared and don’t want to speak out against Nold.”

Chris Adamson, a current Heatherstone tenant, agreed.

“One lady was so afraid of him, she sold her home and moved. He made another homeowner move without due process,” Adamson said.

Kerr, who also owns Nold’s home about 2 miles from the Heatherstone community, according to the Kootenai County Assessor website, said in an interview he doesn’t recall Nold.

“I don’t know a Ronald Nold,” Kerr said. “But it sounds familiar.”

Kerr said no one told him about a two-time convicted child sex offender managing one of his business enterprises.

“It might have been something that came across my desk and I thought it wasn’t worth the effort to get involved with,” Kerr said. “We have a lot of employees and projects, so there is a lot going on.”

Recent business filings with the state of Idaho show an extensive business connection between Kerr and Nold.

Nold’s name is listed on recent documents for at least nine land and homeowner businesses affiliated with Kerr, including: Hayden Grove Homeowner’s Association; Rimrock Meadows LLC; Rimrock Meadows Estates Homeowners Association Inc; Trails Creek Development LLC; Hayden North Development LLC; Kerr Farms LCC; and Kerr Ranch LLC. He is also listed on documents for Lake Forest LLC and K & S Development, which operates Heatherstone, according to tenants.

In each case, the listed address on each of the filings is 8946 Heather Way, the same address as Nold’s Heatherstone office.

Each document includes the signature of Delbert Kerr. Of the 13 businesses on which Delbert Kerr or Del Kerr is listed as the registered agent, according to the Idaho Secretary of State, 10 use the Heatherstone office address.

When contacted at his Heatherstone office in person, Nold declined to answer questions about his work for Kerr.

Current and ex-Heatherstone tenants said that Nold’s roommate, 30-year-old Josh Bishop, does Heatherstone’s maintenance work.

On Aug. 29, four days after Nold’s arrest, Bishop posted Nold’s $150,000 bail in full according to Kootenai County Court records.

Attempts to reach Bishop were unsuccessful.

A church-going man?

Nold told investigators in August that he graduated from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and teaches a bible study at Athol Baptist Church.

Pastor Chris Antone denied Nold’s affiliation with his church. He said Nold worked solely as an independent contractor when he was the church’s accountant and is currently trespassed from the property.

Sean Pomerinke, who said he was the church’s administrative assistant under Antone from 2012-16, said the church knew of Nold’s prior convictions.

“The leadership of that church knew about Nold’s past,” Pomerinke said. “He started at the church before I did, but I saw his background check.”

Pomerinke said Nold handled all of the church’s finances – including its tithing – and worked out of the church’s office every Tuesday for roughly four years.

Pomerinke said Nold was also active in Sunday service, noting that “everyone saw him on a regular basis,” and he said it was strange he was allowed to be around the children who frequented Sunday service.

When told that a former Athol Baptist employee said Nold had a substantial role with the church and that leadership was aware of his troubled history, Antone denied those claims.

“That isn’t true,” Antone said. “And I believe that information came from a disgruntled ex-employee.”

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com