Terhaar pleads guilty to embezzlement charge

Friday, April 23, 2010
Mava Terhaar is shown in her 2009 booking photo.

A former official with the Elmore County Department of Motor Vehicles office pled guilty to one count of embezzling public funds during a preliminary hearing in district court Friday morning.

Mava Terhaar faces up to 14 years in prison and a $10,000 fine during sentencing the morning of June 10.

Originally, Terhaar faced five felony counts of misusing public funds by a public employee. Each count included a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison and additional fines.

During her hearing, the defense told District Judge Richard Greenwood that Terhaar would plead guilty to count four of stealing at least $300 public funds. In addition, she agreed to pay restitution based on all five counts.

"In the beginning, I knew I was guilty," she told the judge. "I took money from the county -- well over $300 -- in 2008."

Elmore County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Terhaar on July 30, 2009, for allegedly embezzling more than $270,000 from the county agency. Terhaar had worked for the DMV, which technically falls under the jurisdiction of the county assessor's office, since October 1987. The sheriff's office has documentation spanning nine years concerning the alleged improprieties.

In sworn testimony at Friday's hearing, Terhaar admitted that she took people's money as they paid for their state license plates or tags. She later voided out the listed payments and pocketed the money. Meanwhile, the state continued issuing plates and tags believing people had paid for them.

The Idaho Department of Transportation alerted local authorities of the possible misuse of funds last June and launched an investigation. The alleged crimes were similar to a case in Canyon County reported in early 2009, said Detective Clint Andrus from the county sheriff's office, who headed up the investigation involving Terhaar. That first case prompted the transportation department to look across the state for other incidents. Elmore County was one of three or four counties flagged by a transportation department forensic audit specialist as requiring further investigation, he said.

Shortly after county detectives began their investigation, Terhaar was placed on administrative leave with pay. As the investigation continued, county officials suspended her without pay. Following a termination hearing held at her request, she was fired July 6, 2009.

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    It is about time she fessed up to what she did. But is my math off? She was arrested for "allegedly embezzling more than $270,000 from the county agency" and faces a fine of $10,000. So steal $270K, pay back $10K.. what about the other $260K? Seems to me that should be paid back as well. I am just saying.

    -- Posted by B Mullen on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 6:21 PM
  • Old guy,

    You're math isn't off. The way I read it, she's going to pay a lot more. Whether or not she'll pay the entire amount is up in the air, but I think it'll be more than 10K.

    "During her hearing, the defense told District Judge Richard Greenwood that Terhaar would plead guilty to count four of stealing at least $300 public funds. In addition, she agreed to pay restitution based on all five counts."

    -- Posted by MrMister on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 6:41 PM
  • More of our tax dollars at work. Once again, the ECPA did a "bang up" job.

    -- Posted by OpinionMissy on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 8:22 AM
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    Sounds to me that they did do a "bang up' job. The Sheriff's Office and the State did a great investigation that left no room to get off on a "technicality". They leveled 5 charges each carrying 14 years plus fines. Most cases the terms of each charge would have been run concurrent with the other charges, hence a total of 14 years.

    She has agreed to pay restitution on all the cases, which should get the county and state back most of their money. That's if they can ever get it out of her. Paying it back at 50 cents a day while in prison won't get it done. They will presumably try to take any real property she has and anything she bought with the illegal funds. But since I saw the "For Sale' signs go up in everything they had when she got fired, I bet they won't get much.

    And since the county won't have to go to the effort to give her a trial, they've saved thousands of dollars. Sounds like a win/lose type of deal. Great job!!

    -- Posted by mhbouncer on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 11:26 AM
  • Wonder who else in the county is shaking in their boots, hoping that they aren't caught! No wonder the county is in such dire straights. We are paying for employees that steal. How about that!

    -- Posted by bearhunter on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 2:40 PM
  • Really Bearhunter? You might want to watch yourself there.....Are you saying that County employees steal? As a rule? Just because she was ripping the County off doesnt mean anyone else is. Thats rediculous. This happens in more places then just the County...It is happening all over! As a matter of fact, this happened at City Hall, yet no one is talking about it! A long time employee from there was put on Administrative leave and then fired but it has managed to stay out of the press and Im not entirely sure why that is?????? But its true.

    -- Posted by mhg4316 on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 4:27 PM
  • mhg4316 - Geeze, I was simply making a comment. If you think that Ms. Terhaar is the only one that committed this crime, then that is your opinion. Don't think for a second there is not more of this going on, whether it be within county offices, city hall, highway, recreation, hospital and school districts. Not on such a large scale as this - this case was an exception -but it is happening and don't think it isn't. Using county vehicles, computers, phones, supplies, etc., is stealing from the taxpayers. They just aren't caught. It happens everywhere and you know it. And every penny adds up.

    The city hall employee you refered to, well, are you saying that employee was stealing? As a rule? YOU might want to watch yourself there.

    Let me correct my verbage of my last post of "we are paying for employees to steal" to "we have been paying for AN employee that embezzled 270,000.00 which the county will never recover and let that be a lesson to the rest of the county employees that even think about it". Is that better?

    -- Posted by bearhunter on Sun, Apr 25, 2010, at 12:35 PM
  • And by the way, mhg4316, YOU made a blanket statement that stealing goes on everywhere. county employees included. You really did contradict yourself there. City Hall IS county or didn't you know that? And it appears to me that you know something that not everyone is aware of. Why is that?

    -- Posted by bearhunter on Sun, Apr 25, 2010, at 1:58 PM
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    There is a lot more corruption in the County than just Marva Terhaar. Unfortunately the paper is ready to look the other way and in some cases even help the miscreants!

    -- Posted by Charlemagne on Mon, Apr 26, 2010, at 7:56 AM
  • There is a lot more corruption in the County than just Marva Terhaar. Unfortunately the paper is ready to look the other way and in some cases even help the miscreants!

    Your soo right. If people only people knew what went on in the sheriffs office. Be a lot of surprised folks

    -- Posted by hdrider on Thu, Apr 29, 2010, at 2:29 PM
  • Corruption in a little town called Mountain Home!!! Now I know where some of my tax dollars went!!!

    -- Posted by Malafunkshun Mountain Homie on Sun, May 9, 2010, at 1:04 AM
  • TROLL alert!!!

    -- Posted by MrMister on Mon, May 10, 2010, at 5:16 PM
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