Pretrial pact resolves perjury case

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SANDPOINT - A pretrial settlement has been reached to resolve a felony criminal charge pending against former Bonner County Clerk Ann Dutson-Sater.

First District Court administrators in Coeur d'Alene advised district court staff in Bonner County on Tuesday that a settlement has been reached.

Dutson-Sater, 56, was scheduled to be tried next week on a charge of subornation of perjury in connection with a failed recall of a Lake Pend Oreille School District trustee in 2014.

The terms of the settlement were not immediately available on Tuesday.

"I don't know them exactly yet," Dutson-Sater said.

However, Dutson-Sater said the agreement will downgrade the felony offense to some type of misdemeanor charge.

Messages seeking comment from special prosecutor Barry McHugh and Bryce Powell, Dutson-Sater's Sandpoint defense attorney, were not immediately returned on Tuesday.

Dutson-Sater was charged following a Kootenai County Sheriff's Office investigation that concluded last year. Bonner County commissioners asked authorities in Kootenai County to investigate and prosecute the case to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

School board Chairman Steve Youngdahl became the subject of a recall attempt after promoting a policy to train and equip certain school district staff members with concealed firearms to guard against a school shooting.

Recall backers contend Youngdahl misled the public about the proposal, used flawed research to support it and overstepped his authority in bringing the proposal.

Youngdahl could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night. A phone message yielded no immediate response.

Dutson-Sater was accused of allowing a recall organizer to state under oath that he witnessed all the recall petition signatures being signed when he had only seen a majority of them. Dutson-Sater concedes she made a mistake and there was no scheme to subvert recall election laws.

"All the judge would have to instruct the jury to prove (the charge) is that I knew he didn't get all of the signatures and I had already admitted that. He wouldn't have had to prove that there was a corrupt agreement," said Dutson-Sater.

The recall was never held because recall backers submitted the petitions in stages rather than all at once.

Dutson-Sater, the last Democrat holding office in Bonner County, was defeated in last year's general election by Republican Michael Rosedale.

Dutson-Sater said she is feeling some measure of relief that the case is being resolved, but isn't pleased she'll have a criminal offense on her record.

Dutson-Sater and her supporters believe that she would not have found herself in the crosshairs of a criminal investigation if she was a Republican.

"The fact that I was the only Democrat made me a target," she said.

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