A Former Prosecutor Sentenced; A Current Prosecutor Outraged and Frustrated
Kimball Mason, former prosecutor for the City of Idaho Falls, was sentenced today on two counts of Grand Theft and one count of Falsifying a Public Record. He received three concurrent one-to-five year prison terms. Mason was ordered to pay $8,400 in restitution to the City of Idaho Falls for firearms he took that had been seized under forfeiture laws or that were otherwise in the possession of the city police department. Mason was also required to pay $1,800 for the cost of the investigation. As part of the plea ageement, Mason was required to surrender his license to practice law. He was also required to admit to the wrongful taking of 16 other guns. According to the Attorney General's Office, there were over 50 counts of theft for which Mason was not charge. The AG's Office agreed not to file those charges as part of the plea agreement, an agreement that was reached prior to the filing of the charges for which Mason pled guilty. For more information you can read the Idaho Attorney General's Office press release.
Outraged!!! That's just the beginning of the words that describe how I feel about Mason's behavior. Here is a list of other terms that cross my mind: disgusted, sickened, horrified, shocked, numb, overwhelmed, astounded, flabbergasted, insulted, incensed, agitated, aggravated, angry, enraged, infuriated, and BETRAYED.
Let me add one more word to the list: frustrated. The public is already being exposed to an unrealistic view of prosecutors (as well as other players in the criminal justice system) via the overwhelming number of crime dramas on television. To the extent any of the public has doubts about the integrity of prosecutors, this case only solidifies those doubts. I must now deal with the concept of "guilt by association." I have already received random ribbing from people about this case. I hear comments like "What's in your wallet?" "How big is your gun collection?" and "Is that your ride? Really?" I know it is intended as joking but, it is only confirms the image problem. And, what about the attitude of criminal defendants? How can I expect them to respect how prosecutors handle their cases if they think we are hypocrites or live by a double standard?
What do I think caused this? A reputation that fostered arrogance and a sense of invincibility and a gravy-train mentality. Mason was a well-known prosecutor in my part of the state. He used to be the Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney. He prosecuted many high profile cases that earned him a reputation as a very good and successful trial attorney; as the good guy; as one of those super-hero types. Nobody questioned his integrity. His reputation, no doubt, resulted in him becoming the city prosecutor. It also, I am sure, led to his ability to receive a salary that was more than my salary and my office manager/secretary's salary put together. And, he only did criminal prosecutions for the city part-time. He had a private practice. He also worked on the side for at least one other county. His overall annual salary was probably twice what mine is. I think that all of these factors led to an environment where Mason thought the rules did not apply to him. And, there was no accounting or other accountability measures in place with the city. So, he was pretty much free to do what he wanted with little or no risk of being detected. However, the fact that he apparently altered at least one court document in order to facility removal of a gun from evidence shows the level of moral bankruptcy which Mason had reached.
Do I feel sorry for him? Not one bit. He became arrogant and greedy. He is a traitor to one of the nobelest of causes and professions on this planet. He deserved every ounce of what was handed out.