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Ex-Horseshoe Bend fire chief charged with stealing thousands of dollars meant for victims

Sept. 21, 2022 Updated Wed., Sept. 21, 2022 at 8:27 p.m.

By Sally Krutzig Idaho Statesman

Horseshoe Bend’s former fire chief has been charged with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars.

Court filings allege that Curtis Corvinus, who is also an elected City Council member, “did wrongfully take $3,668.53 from the Horseshoe Bend Fire Department.”

Jeff Johnson, who was the assistant fire chief at the time, told the Idaho Statesman that he discovered signs of theft while purchasing items for a local Easter egg hunt that the department was planning.

The original May court filing alleges that Corvinus took money from the fire department’s burnout fund “and/or fail(ed) to deposit charitable cash contributions” between Nov. 1 and March 31. Burnout funds assist victims of fires that have destroyed homes and in other emergencies.

“The kind of things that the money was being used for, it was very obvious that was not what it’s intended for,” Johnson said in a phone interview.

Johnson, who was voted in by his team as the new fire chief, wrote in a Facebook post that the money was taken by a member “for personal use.”

Johnson notified law enforcement of the missing money on April 13, and Detective Russell Max Sprague of the Boise County Sheriff’s Office interviewed four people at the department, according to court records. Among them was Corvinus, who “fully admitted” to all wrongdoings and “gave full cooperation,” according to Johnson’s post.

Court records from Sept. 7 show that the type of grand theft charge against Corvinus was changed to remove allegations that the money came from public funds.

“That doesn’t mean we are saying it wasn’t public funds, it just removes one thing that we have to prove at trial,” Boise County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Strong told the Idaho Statesman in a phone interview.

Corvinus became chief of the Horseshoe Bend Fire Department, which consists of 13 volunteer members, in September 2021. In November, he was elected to the Horseshoe Bend City Council, and he continues to hold that position. Elected leaders cannot be removed just with a felony charge; they must be found guilty, according to Idaho law.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 19, but Corvinus waived that hearing, moving the case to district court. Corvinus has not entered a plea.

“In light of these events, it has shown us gaps in our system, and we are learning from this error and implementing checks and balances to ensure all funds are fully protected in the future,” Johnson said in his social media post.

These new procedures include separating the donation fund from the regular department account and requiring multiple people to sign off on large purchases, according to Johnson.

Corvinus, his attorney and Horseshoe Bend Mayor Patrick Goff did not return the Statesman’s requests for comment.

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