BOISE, Idaho — The former Caldwell Police officer convicted of three federal crimes in September 2022 will serve three months in prison, far less than prosecutors sought.
Joseph Hoadley, 42, was sentenced Monday morning for falsifying a record in a federal investigation, tampering with a witness by harassment, and tampering with documents. His total sentence is three months followed by one year of supervised release. Hoadley has 14 days to file a notice of appeal.
“For a person that’s never had a speeding ticket in their life, the possibility of incarceration is pretty scary, but the possibility of losing my son far exceeds that,” Hoadley said through tears as he spoke on his own behalf before the sentence was handed down.
Hoadley’s relationship with his son, who is 10 years old, was one of the factors Judge Scott Skavdahl said he considered in his sentence, along with his history of community involvement as a police officer and outside of that role. However, Skavdahl also said he was not about to sentence an innocent man, rather, he was about to sentence a man who had been found guilty of a crime by a jury of his peers.
"It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, it takes a moment to destroy it," Skavdahl said. "While these crimes are not capital offenses, they go to the integrity of the individual and of the system."
The U.S. Attorney's Office had asked for a sentence of 3 years, 5 months, which federal prosecutors indicated was at the top end of the guidelines applied in the federal probation office's presentence investigation report. Hoadley's defense attorney, Charles Peterson, urged the court to spare Hoadley from prison and sentence him to probation only.
"This case is about an officer who criminally violated the oath he took to uphold the law," said U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit in a news release following Monday's sentencing. "In falsifying reports and tampering with a witness, the defendant offended the principles of the Caldwell Police Department and of law enforcement officers everywhere. This case shows that we will not hesitate to hold accountable police officers who violate the law — just like we do for everyone else. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that this investigation occurred because several Caldwell police officers refused to tolerate the defendant's violations and stood up to his abuse of power. The integrity and bravery of these officers is something that the community can be proud of."
The charge of falsifying a record was related to Hoadley's report following the March 30, 2017, incident in which a man identified in charging documents as B.H. claimed Hoadley punched him in the face while taking him into custody. During a weeklong trial in September, Hoadley was found not guilty of depriving B.H. of his civil rights, but guilty of filing a false report about the incident. The witness tampering and document tampering charges were related to actions in 2021 and 2022, during an FBI investigation into allegations of misconduct by Hoadley and at least one other Caldwell Police officer.
While addressing the court, Hoadley said he had an opportunity to plead guilty to a misdemeanor deprivation of rights charge, but chose to fight it -- and ultimately face trial on felony charges -- because the initial charge related to something he believed did not happen.
"I wanted an opportunity for my voice to be heard," Hoadley said, later saying he left out "valuable" details in the report about the 2017 arrest of B.H. "I should have done better and included more details in my report."
Regarding the officer Hoadley was found guilty of harassing, Hoadley indicated that he and the officer had been friends, and that it was never his intent to interfere with the ongoing FBI investigation.
Regarding his decision to wipe data from his cell phone and laptop before turning them in to the City of Caldwell when he was placed on administrative leave in 2022, Hoadley expressed regret, then said he was in the middle of a "pretty rough divorce" at the time, and that his phone contained data that would "prove infidelity that was going on," and he didn't want to embarrass his wife.
Hoadley's employment with the Caldwell Police Department was terminated on May 3, 2022, after a grand jury returned the felony indictment.
The crimes were not excessive force, but were crimes of cover-up, Skavdahl said before he handed down the sentence.
"This was an offense of arrogance, defiance and stupidity," said Skavdahl, who is Chief U.S. District Court Judge for Wyoming, but was designated to hear this case and others in Idaho. People who have the public's trust, Skavdahl said, "must act accountable with it, and if they don't that creates greater concerns and impacts."
Judge Skavdahl said he also considered Hoadley's contributions to the community, contributions highlighted in many of the 65 letters of support filed with the court, as well as his relationship with his son. Hoadley and his son's mother recently divorced. Hoadley's ex wife was among those who sent letters of support to the court.
Also sending a letter of support for Hoadley was Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor, who said he wrote the letter on behalf of himself, but during cross-examination Monday, Taylor admitted he used official prosecutor's office letterhead. Hoadley's defense attorney, Charles Peterson, called Taylor as a witness at the sentencing, in which Taylor described Hoadley as a good man and that he represented the police department in a positive light.
When asked about citizen complaints against Hoadley, Taylor said he did not know how many were filed.
Monday evening, Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue and the chiefs of police for Nampa, Caldwell, Middleton, Wilder and Parma issued a statement expressing "dismay" about the current, elected county prosecutor testifying in support of a defendant in a federal sentencing.
"We believe testimonies such as Mr. Taylor's weaken the confidence that our community has in the criminal justice system, as well as their leaders," the statement reads, in part.
Executive U.S. Attorney Kate Horwitz, presenting for the prosecution, mentioned that one of the letters supporting Hoadley was from a current police detective, Scott Crupper, and that it "disparages officers who had the bravery to report what they saw as criminal behavior to the FBI." Also, Horwitz said, the detective accuses the Caldwell IT employee who testified at trial of lying on the stand.
The record containing the text of that and other letters is sealed by the court.
Judge Skavdahl is recommending that Hoadley serve his three-month prison sentence at the Federal Correction Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, which is northwest of Salem. Idaho does not have any federal prison sites. Hoadley is being allowed to self-surrender, and must report by the afternoon of April 4.
Under Idaho Administrative Rules, a felony conviction is a mandatory decertification by Idaho Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) once the agency receives the conviction and sentencing orders, meaning Hoadley can no longer be a law enforcement officer in this state.
A spokesperson for POST says they have to give 14 days for Hoadley to potentially appeal his sentencing before they can more forward with de-certification.
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