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An Idaho Representative May Get To Keep His Guns While Awaiting Trial

John Green
John Green

Idaho state Rep. John Green (R-Post Falls) could soon get his guns back as he awaits trial in Texas on a felony charge to defraud the United States.

Green has been without his guns since August 2018. That summer, a grand jury indicted him, saying he used bank accounts associated with his law practice to launder money for his clients in Texas so they could avoid reporting it to the IRS.

As part of his pretrial release, a federal magistrate judge said Green couldn’t have access to guns for the safety of law enforcement who might make unannounced visits to his home.

Green’s lawyer, Michael Minns, called that decision an “overreach.”

“You don’t have to have a reason for having a core, constitutional right. You have that right. It cannot be taken away from you unless there’s a good reason,” Minns said during oral arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in September.

The 5th Circuit ruled Monday that there wasn’t enough evidence for the government to strip Green of his guns, which he said he needed to protect his family from bears in the winter.

But the court didn’t rule on Minns’ constitutional arguments.

Green won’t have his guns returned to him immediately. The lower court will now have to consider new evidence in the case, with the feds needing to prove he is enough of a public threat to keep him unarmed.

“I want law enforcement to feel as safe as they can,” Minns said in a phone interview Wednesday, but, “Police officers in Russia, China and Saudi Arabia are much safer than those in free countries” because they restrict the rights of their citizens.

The Department of Justice has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

Green’s larger felony trial is scheduled to begin in January. According to court documents, between December 2005 and August 2017, he and his Texas clients, Michelle and Thomas Selgas, conspired to file false IRS tax returns.

Federal prosecutors say his clients deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gold coins and cash into bank accounts controlled by Green via his law practice that was later used to cover their personal expenses.

Minns has said these charges against Green are suspicious since they weren’t handed down until after he won the Republican Party primary in 2018.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!