FORMER ISU EMPLOYEE WHO EMBEZZLED OVER $100K PLEADS GUILTY TO CHILD SEX CRIMES
November 2, 2020
Idaho State Journal
BLACKFOOT — A former employee of Idaho State University convicted of embezzling $100,000 from the school in 2017 pleaded guilty to two child sex crime charges in Bingham County on Monday.
While appearing remotely from the Bingham County Jail in Blackfoot for a hearing held at the Bingham County Courthouse on Monday afternoon, Tyler Gene Liddle, 32, of Blackfoot, entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors that involved him pleading guilty to one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing or accessing child porn, both felonies.
Liddle was originally charged with one count of distributing child porn and four counts of possessing or accessing child porn stemming from an Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children and U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation, according to an Idaho Office of the Attorney General news release in July.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, Bingham County Chief Deputy Prosecutor David Cousin agreed to dismiss the three additional counts of possessing or accessing child pornography and recommended the 7th District judge handling the case, Darren Simpson, impose sentences that run concurrently, or at the same time.
The agreement is not binding, meaning Simpson could choose to sentence Liddle as he sees fits and that Liddle cannot withdraw his guilty plea so long as the sentence Simpson imposes does not exceed the maximum as identified in Idaho statute, which is up to 30 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines for the charge of distributing child porn and up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines for possessing or accessing child porn.
Additionally, Liddle agreed to surrender the electronic devices that allegedly contained the child porn in his possession and the device he allegedly used to distribute child porn. Authorities did not identify in documents used to charge Liddle with the child sex crimes what types of devices Liddle allegedly used to distribute as well as to posses or access child porn.
The investigation that led to Liddle’s arrest also included the Blackfoot Police Department, which fielded a complaint late last year from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), according to police reports the Idaho State Journal obtained in July.
Blackfoot police detectives in December 2019 received a cyber tip and complaint regarding content flagged as child pornography from NCMEC that had been distributed using the social media application Snapchat, police said. Facebook had previously flagged the same content and also reported it to NCMEC, police said.
Blackfoot police on Dec. 6, 2019 investigated the complaint and determined the content contained an image of a mostly nude girl between the approximate ages of 11 and 15, police said.
On April 15, 2020, Blackfoot police detectives received another complaint from NCMEC reported by Instagram that contained an image of a nude girl between the approximate ages of 11 and 14, police said.
The investigation revealed the reported images were transmitted via internet services belonging to Liddle at an address on the 2800 block of Hunters Loop in Blackfoot, according to police reports.
Officers with the Blackfoot Police Department, Idaho Falls Police Department, Bingham County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, United States Postal Inspection Service, District 7 Probation and Parole Office and Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office executed a search warrant at Liddle’s home on July 21.
During the search of Liddle’s home, police recovered additional images of child pornography, of which four of the images contained nude prepubescent girls between the approximate ages of 9 and 14, police said.
Liddle was subsequently arrested and transported to the Bingham County Jail in Blackfoot where he remains incarcerated.
Liddle in November 2017 was ordered to serve 14 years of probation after pleading guilty to one count of misusing public funds, a felony, in July of 2017. While a financial technician at ISU, Liddle embezzled over $116,000 from the school by creating more than 400 fraudulent cash reimbursement invoices, the Journal reported in 2017.
Sixth District Judge Robert Naftz suspended a 14-year prison sentence against Liddle and instead placed him on felony probation for 14 years, which required Liddle to pay over $116,000 in restitution and serve 150 hours of community service.
Naftz had denied Liddle’s request for withheld judgement and opted for probation over prison time because a pre-sentencing investigation revealed Liddle was at low-risk to commit future crimes and that this was his first felony offense, Bannock County Prosecutor Steve Herzog told the Journal in 2017.
Judge Simpson on Monday ordered Liddle to complete a pre-sentencing investigation to determine his risk to reoffend and to ascertain if he has any mental health or substance abuse issues. Moreover, Simpson also ordered Liddle to complete a psychosexual evaluation, which will help determine his risk to commit additional sex crimes against children in the future.
In the event Liddle is ordered to serve prison time, Simpson reminded Liddle that Idaho statute requires he register as a sex offender with the Idaho State Police upon his release.
Liddle is due back in front of Simpson at the Bingham County Courthouse for his sentencing hearing on Jan. 11, 2021.
Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Please visit our website at www.crimevictimscenter.org for news, information and resources in your community.