By JOSH MCDONALD
WALLACE — District Judge Scott Wayman presided over several local cases earlier this week during the first Shoshone County Law Day on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Joshua Easley, 41, of Kellogg, appeared in front of Judge Wayman to deny a charge of violating the terms of his probation. Easley was given probation after he pleaded guilty to a theft charge stemming from an incident that occurred two years ago in Kellogg.
On Nov. 10, 2017, Easley (and possibly others) was arrested for his role in the theft of numerous Bunker Hill Mine artifacts and rare minerals, including thousands of pyromorphite crystals, from a residence on Railroad Avenue owned by Bob Hopper Jr.
Working off a tip, the Kellogg Police Department and Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at Easley’s Kellogg home and located most of the stolen items. Many of the minerals were damaged or destroyed though during the theft.
After pleading guilty to the theft by receiving or possessing stolen property charge, Wayman initially handed down a two-year fixed, eight-year indeterminate prison sentence in October 2018, but then suspended the sentence in favor of three years felony probation.
With the recent alleged probation violation though, the state will be pushing for the full prison sentence.
“He (Mr. Easley) has violated his probation and posted bond on that probation violation,” said Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney Keisha Oxendine. “He has denied the allegations of the probation violation and we will be arguing for imposition of sentence after the evidentiary hearing. If the court finds he violated his probation after our evidentiary hearing, it can impose the full underlying sentence of 10 years.”
Easley denied the violation on Wednesday, as his counsel cited his recent acceptance into the Good Samaritan Rehabilitation Program and hopes that he can get as much of that program under his belt before his next evidentiary hearing.
As of Sept. 5, Easley’s evidentiary hearing has not been scheduled.
ICourt records show that Easley has a extensive history of criminal activity in both Shoshone and Kootenai counties that includes multiple theft convictions and possession of a controlled substance.
Judge Wayman also presided over the sentencing of Hayden man William Croston on Wednesday.
Croston, 39, was arrested on March 26 after he and another man broke into the former Enyeart Cedar Mill in Smelterville.
Due to the complexity of the mill building and unknown hazards, assistance from a dual purpose (criminal apprehension) K-9 was requested that night from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department by SCSO.
During the course of the building search, the entry team successfully located Croston and his accomplice, Earl E. Jones. One of the subjects was taken into custody without incident, while the other was apprehended by the K-9 after it bit him on the arm just above the elbow.
Croston pleaded guilty to a single burglary charge in April,
Following the state’s recommendation, Croston was given a four-year prison sentence (two years fixed, two indeterminate), $900 in restitution fees to the company who owned the burglarized building and put on a two-year period of supervised probation once his sentence is complete.
Shoshone County Deputy Prosecutor Ben Allen noted the presentence investigation report show that this burglary was Croston’s first felony offense and that he had a number of protective factors identified by the PSI investigator. The investigator believed that these protective factors made the defendant a worthy candidate for community supervision and would likely help Croston receive a lighter sentence than the possible 10-year sentence he was eligible for.