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Jailed founder of Idaho patriot group denied good-behavior release

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 4, 2020

By John Sowell Idaho Statesman

There won’t be a get-out-of-jail card in the Christmas stocking of Brandon Curtiss.

A judge has denied a request from the Ada County Jail that Curtiss be released early for good behavior during his yearlong sentence for defrauding clients of his failed Meridian property management company.

Curtiss, 46, stole tens of thousands of dollars from clients of Curtiss Property Management. He pleaded guilty to one count of felony grand theft in exchange for prosecutors dropping 18 other counts of grand theft. District Judge Peter Barton in February sentenced Curtiss to 365 days in jail.

Capt. John Dilbert, director of the Jail Services Bureau, wrote a letter notifying Barton that Curtiss was eligible to have 60 days taken off his sentence for good behavior. He said Curtiss had shown “good behavior” and performed all assigned tasks in an “orderly and peaceable manner.”

Inmates are eligible for five days of early release time for every month they show good behavior. He also completed a change in behavior course. Curtiss was eligible for the maximum time off from his incarceration.

Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Michael Guy told Barton during a virtual hearing Tuesday that Curtiss should serve his entire sentence. He said Curtiss stole a sense of security and the financial well-being of his victims and needs to continue reflecting on the suffering he caused.

“Mr. Curtiss earned every single minute he’s served in jail and continues serving,” Guy said. “One year in jail, quite frankly, is a gift.”

Leslie Boyce, a Portland-area resident who owned two rental fourplexes on West Fairview Avenue, lost more than $60,000 to Curtiss. Within eight months of contracting with Curtiss in March 2013, he stopped forwarded payments for rent, deposits and other expenses to Boyce and her husband, Aaron.

The couple sued and in 2015 an Ada County judge awarded them $68,549. So far, Curtiss has not paid on the debt.

“I hope you will keep Mr. Curtiss in custody regardless of his current behavior,” Leslie Boyce said. “He never showed any concern and never paid us a dime. He also threatened us.”

Defense attorney Sean Wynn told Barton he didn’t believe the judge had any discretion in the matter, that he had to follow the jail staff’s recommendation. Barton said he could follow the recommendation but was not bound by it.

“He’s shown a change in his character and this won’t happen again,” Wynn said. “He’s a different man from when this whole thing started.”

Guy said Curtiss deserves further punishment. “And for part of that punishment, he needs to have missed some of the holidays with his family,” Guy said.

Barton said he decided against allowing Curtiss to leave jail early because of the large number of victims, 19, that he defrauded, the trust with them he broke, and the large amount of money he stole, more than $109,000.

“I find that the sentence that I imposed 10 months ago was appropriate and I find it is still so,” Barton said.

When he’s released, Curtiss, the founder and former president of the patriot group 3% of Idaho, will be on probation until 2034. He will no longer be allowed to own or possess firearms because of his felony conviction.

Barton imposed a condition that Curtiss inform any employer in writing of his conviction. The letter must then be filed with his probation officer. He also barred Curtiss from any job that involves handling money, and he was fined $5,000.

He was also ordered to pay $21,526 in restitution to the victims. If he fails to make payments or follow other conditions of his probation, Curtiss could be ordered to serve all or a portion of the full sentence of three to 11 years in prison.

In April, Curtiss asked to be released from jail because of the danger of contracting the coronavirus. At the time, Wynn said contracting the disease could pose a life-threatening condition because he suffers from high blood pressure. Barton rejected that request.

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