A former bail bondsman who misused collateral funds for his personal expenses has been sentenced to probation.
District Judge Joel Tingey noted the unlikelihood Ryan James Smith, 51, would repeat the crime in deciding to sentence him to two years of probation. He allowed Smith to serve his probation in Utah, where Smith now lives.
Smith was charged with two counts of misappropriation or diversion of fiduciary funds. One of the counts was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
The charges were filed after two of his clients filed complaints with the Idaho Department of Insurance. Both clients had paid Smith collateral to cover their bond but said Smith did not return the collateral amount when their bond was exonerated.
The department investigated and learned Smith had been using the funds for his own personal expenses. When the first victim filed a complaint, Smith used money from the second victim to refund the first's collateral. He then failed to repay the second victim when her bond was exonerated, leading to the second complaint.
Defense Attorney Trevor Castleton said his client was going through a "toxic" period in his marriage that led him to neglect his business prior to the misuse of funds. Castleton said Smith admitted to the misuse in 2016, leading to his bail bondsman license being revoked.
Castleton said Smith believed the 2016 settlement meant no charges would be filed, and that he was surprised when the Department of Insurance opened a criminal investigation in 2019.
Castleton said his client has a limited criminal history.
Deputy Attorney General Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Cafferty pointed out that Smith did not use the funds on necessities, but at bars, casinos and casino funds. Cafferty said the defendant intentionally mislead the victims when they asked about the money, ignoring their requests for an answer.
Both attorneys recommended probation. Smith gave a statement acknowledging his crimes and apologizing.
"I know it put some people in some bad positions," Smith said.
In addition to probation, Tingey ordered Smith to serve 100 hours of community service. The sentence included a withheld judgment, meaning Tingey can decide to dismiss the charge if Smith succeeds on probation.