78 Productions promoter gets 8 years for scam


An Idaho Falls concert promoter was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for stealing $228,500 from Riverbend Communications.

Ryan D. Thueson, 34, pleaded guilty to grand theft. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed additional charges of forgery and computer crime.

District Judge Joel Tingey ordered Thueson to pay back the money he took from Riverbend Communications. Bonneville County prosecutor Bruce Pickett said Thueson will be eligible for parole after two years.

“It’s a large amount of money and we felt that prison was appropriate,” Pickett said.

Thueson was arrested Jan. 22 after a five-month investigation into Thueson and his entertainment company, 78 Productions. The Idaho Falls Police Department conducted the investigation at the request of Riverbend management.

Riverbend Communications companies include Classy 97, Z103, 105.5 The Hawk, KBEAR 101, NewsTalk 97.7/690/1260, Riverbend Digital, Riverbend Outdoor and Riverbend Productions. The company is owned and operated by Frank and Belinda VanderSloot.

Riverbend Communications contracted Thueson to bring

performers Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum and others to play at Hawkfest 2013. The event never happened.

Riverbend gave Thueson money over the

course of a year to be placed into a bank escrow account to cover minimum payments for the performers.

Thueson claimed to be working with a promoter representing the entertainers. However, detectives said Thueson fabricated the story and forwarded fraudulent emails and other documents to Riverbend. He also forged documents from the bank to Riverbend Communications, authorities said.