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Attorney: City of Idaho Falls paid former attorney illegal benefits

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Jan 24 2013 10:27:26 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 25 2013 12:23:06 AM CST

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

On Thursday night, a prominent Idaho Falls attorney brought big accusations against the City of Idaho Falls and former city attorney Dale Storer.

At a city council meeting on Thursday night, Bryan Smith slammed city leaders with stacks of evidence he said proves illegal Public Retirement System of Idaho -- or PERSI -- payments were funneled to Storer for years.

Smith detailed what he's discovered through extensive open records requests.

On Thursday afternoon, Smith gave our station an exclusive look at some of what he planned to bring before the council.

Smith has literally boxes and boxes of public records requests.
 
"This is a very good example of how the city has wasted money in order to get one person retirement benefits," said Smith.

Put all those documents together like a puzzle, Smith said, and it's a picture of undeniable deception amidst tax hikes.

"The city wants to raise taxes in the face of this kind of mismanagement," said Smith.
 
Smith said a paper trail starts 12 years ago with an e-mail from PERSI.

"It's dated January 29, 2001," said Smith, as he referrenced the document.

The e-mail from PERSI challenges Storer's eligibility for benefits. In 2001, Storer is listed as an independent contractor for the city. Only employees are eligible.

Smith said documents show the city then paid for a Boise-based law firm, at a final cost of $1,600.
 
"Essentially, the lawyers from Boise agree with PERSI, that Mr. Storer is not eligible for PERSI benefits because he was an independent contractor for 20 years," said Smith.
 
Soon after, according to Smith, something odd happened:

"Dale Storer was simply turned into a city employee," said Smith. "They did this so he could get PERSI benefits."
 
Smith said tens-of-thousands of dollars have been spent by the city just to get make Storer eligible for retirement benefits.

He said deception about Storer's employment status continued as late as last month. After billing discrepancies, Storer resigned in Sept. 2012, but Smith said he continued to do work for the city under the radar.
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"I discovered he was continuing to do work for the city," said Smith. "The citizenry didn't know it, but city council members knew it, the mayor knew it."

Smith said he has proof -- a lease between the city and Idaho Jet Center Incorporated, signed December 13.

"The mayor Jared Fuhriman signed it right there," Smith pointed to the signature on the page. "Dale Storer's signature is right down here."

When Smith finished presenting his allegations at the meeting on Thursday night, the council asked if he'd turn over his documents so they could look.

He said if they'd appoint an investigator, he would share anything they needed.

Our station asked city spokesman Brad Huerta before the meeting for response from the council. There was no opportunity on Thursday night, because members were in session, but Huerta said they would offer a response as soon as possible.

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