VALLEY COUNTY, Idaho — A Valley County employee is facing a criminal charge after investigators say he demanded a $500 donation before he would help a man whose snowmobile was stuck on a trail.

Valley County Recreation Director Larry Laxson was charged in June with a misdemeanor count of theft by extortion. 

According to a complaint filed June 26 by the Idaho Attorney General's Office, the incident happened on New Years Eve 2018. 

According to the complaint, Dustin Steelsmith had gotten his snowmobile stuck on one of the public snowmobile trails. Laxson is accused of refusing to help Steelsmith get the vehicle out of the snow, unless the other man made a $500 donation to the McCall Snowmobile Club.

The demand had the effect of "instilling in Mr. Steelsmith a fear that if the property was not so delivered, the defendant would use or abuse his position as a public servant," the complaint reads. 

Removing snowmobiles stuck on Valley County's public trails is part of Laxson's official duties as recreational director, according to prosecutors. 

It's not clear from the filing whether or not Steelsmith actually paid the $500.

Laxson has pleaded not guilty to the charge. A pretrial in the case is set for Aug. 19. 

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