Prominent Idaho Falls businessman and political activist Doyle Beck, the former Bonneville County GOP chairman, has been charged in Lemhi County with two misdemeanors after he reportedly used a helicopter for hunting.
According to a Bureau of Land Management officer, Beck and two other men reportedly used the helicopter in September in an attempt to retrieve a dead elk. The officer said the case did not involve anyone shooting from the helicopter. Beck reportedly landed in the Eighteen Mile wilderness study area, according to BLM spokeswoman Sarah Wheeler. Motorized vehicles are not allowed in those areas. Landing in a wilderness study area is prohibited under federal regulations. A violation of those rules carries a potential fine of up to $100,000 and a sentence of up to a year in prison.
Beck was charged with unlawful use of a helicopter in hunting game, punishable by up to six months in jail, and aiding in a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. Beck has pleaded not guilty in both cases and demanded a jury trial. Beck said he would prove his innocence in court. He criticized the charge for aiding in a misdemeanor because the other defendant’s case was dropped.
“They charged me with aiding a (misdemeanor), a charge they dismissed,” Beck said.
One of the men with Beck was charged with unlawful use of a helicopter in hunting game, but the case was dismissed in March.
Though the incident happened last fall, charges were not filed against Beck until March after an investigation by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. John Cosenza, an aviation safety inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration, said the agency has an ongoing investigation.
Beck was the Bonneville County GOP chairman from 2012 until 2016, and is the party’s chairman of the 30th Legislative District. Mark Fuller, the current chairman of the Bonneville County GOP, is Beck’s attorney in this matter.
The charges are not the first time Beck’s use of a helicopter has drawn negative attention. In 2017 his son, Dan Beck, was found to have committed a campaign finance violation after his father flew into an Emotion Bowl game with a sign that read “Dan Beck for City Council.” The Idaho Falls City Attorney’s Office determined Dan Beck should have listed the flight on his disclosure report.
A status conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 20 at the Lemhi County Courthouse in Salmon.