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U.S. Attorney recommends nearly 3 ½ years prison for former Caldwell officer

Joseph Hoadley's sentencing is set for Feb. 6. His defense argues his service and family ties should be considered. Prosecutors say he violated the public trust.

BOISE, Idaho — Days before a former high-ranking Caldwell Police officer is set to be sentenced for three federal crimes, court papers filed Monday detail why prosecutors believe he belongs in prison and why his defense attorney believes he doesn’t.

Former Caldwell Police Lt. Joseph Hoadley was found guilty in September of falsifying a record in a federal investigation, witness tampering by harassment, and destroying a record to impair its use in an official proceeding.

A federal grand jury indicted Hoadley on the charges of witness tampering and destroying a record in August, four months after a previous indictment in which he was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and falsifying a record, two counts related to use of force in a March 30, 2017, arrest of a man suspected of growing marijuana. After a four-day trial, jurors found Hoadley not guilty of deprivation of rights, but convicted him on the other three counts, including a charge accusing Hoadley of falsifying his report of the 2017 incident.

Hoadley is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, Feb. 6, at the U.S. Courthouse in Boise. The government recommends a sentence of 3 years, 5 months in prison and a $150,000 fine. Hoadley is seeking probation with no prison time.

Whether he goes to prison or not, Hoadley will be decertified as a police officer by Idaho POST once he’s sentenced. He was fired from the Caldwell Police Department in May 2022, after the initial indictment was returned but before his conviction.

Government’s position on sentencing

In its sentencing memorandum filed on Monday, Jan. 30, federal prosecutors argue that a prison sentence is “necessary to protect the community, promote respect for the law, and adequately deter criminal conduct.”

Federal prosecutors write that between 2016 and 2022, Hoadley “has obstructed justice on five known occasions.”

In his September trial, Hoadley was convicted of harassing one officer, Chad Hessman, after the FBI began investigating Hoadley and at least one other Caldwell P.D. officer, Ryan Bendewald. The prosecutors assert that Hoadley’s “harassment and attempt to influence the federal investigation was broader.”

“His obstruction transcended the intimidation of witnesses. He destroyed data on his city-issued laptop and cellphones to further prevent federal agents’ ability to investigate abusive police practices,” the government memorandum states, referring to the allegation of destroying a record, one of the three counts for which the jury found Hoadley guilty.

The possible maximum sentence for the crimes on which Hoadley was convicted is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the three counts. Under detailed federal sentencing guidelines based on offense level and criminal history, the Final Presentence Investigation Report indicates the federal probation office determined the applicable guideline range was 33 to 41 months. The government's recommendation is at the top end of that range. However, prosecutors write that the report did not, but should have, included an enhancement for abuse of a position of trust, and that a guideline range of 41 to 51 months should have been applied.

“Simply, the defendant’s status as a high-ranking supervisor within the department generally allowed him the broader, unchecked access to data and employees necessary to commit the offenses for which he was convicted,” the government’s memorandum states. “The harm caused by this breakdown in public trust has lingering effects that permeate throughout the community.”

Defense urges “downward departure” from sentencing guidelines

Hoadley’s defense attorney Charles Peterson writes in his sentencing memorandum that Hoadley “respectfully requests that the court sentence him to a period of probation.” He writes that Hoadley has already lost his career and will need to find work and be retrained for another occupation.

“Since this matter has been pending, it has been impossible for him to find work as future employers want the assurance that he will be around, and not in prison,” Peterson writes. “Media coverage of the investigation and the case have painted Hoadley as a rogue cop.”

Federal law authorizes the court to “depart from the guideline range" if there are circumstances not adequately taken into consideration by the federal sentencing guidelines, Peterson writes as he asks the court for a “downward departure” from the guidelines.

Peterson says in the document, “Mr. Hoadley’s service to his police force and to the community in general is not adequately taken into consideration by the guidelines.” Peterson also notes Hoadley’s family ties and his civic involvement outside of police work.

The defense’s sentencing memorandum includes citations from letters of support people have sent the court “based on their observation of him as a law enforcement officer, father, son, community and civic leader, and charitable person.”

Peterson writes that more than 50 people have written to the court. Among them are retired Caldwell Police Chief and current State Rep. Chris Allgood and former Canyon County Sheriff Chris Smith, who credit Hoadley with helping reduce gang violence in Caldwell.

Also writing in support of Hoadley was former Caldwell Police Chief Frank Wyant, who retired in March 2022 amid the FBI investigation. Wyant wrote of Hoadley’s dedication to community service, saying he “has played a big role in the community from setting up fundraisers for those less fortunate and giving of his time to coach and develop young boys in sports.

Peterson argues against prison for Hoadley because law enforcement officers “are more likely to face retaliation and danger because of their law enforcement work. They are likely to do their time in protective custody and incur even further isolation.”

“At sentencing, Joey Hoadley will explain his plans going forward to keep him from committing any other crimes. He will outline for the court his understanding that he is responsible for the offenses he was convicted of, regardless of whether he agrees with the findings,” Peterson writes in the conclusion of his sentencing memorandum. “He will acknowledge that he had his day in court and he understands and accepts the jury verdicts, regardless of whether he agrees with them.”

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