Lincoln County’s sheriff resigned Monday afternoon following his arrest by Idaho State Police on Friday on multiple felony charges, including rape.
A former Blaine County deputy, Rene Rodriguez, 40, of Shoshone, has been charged with one count of sexual abuse of a minor under 16, four counts of lewd conduct with a minor and two counts of rape, all felonies.
Rodriguez appeared via video conference from the Blaine County Correctional Facility for his initial appearance in front of Magistrate Judge Jennifer Haemmerle on Monday afternoon. Haemmerle informed him of the maximum penalties for the charges. A conviction for sexual abuse of a minor under 16 carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000, plus up to $5,000 in restitution. For the charges of rape, Rodriguez would face up to life in prison if convicted.
Appearing as Rodriguez’s legal counsel, Twin Falls attorney Michael Wood requested that his client appear before a district judge immediately and that his bond be reduced. Haemmerle said Rodriguez is scheduled to appear in District Court in front of Judge Ned Williamson on April 15, and that the $500,000 bond would not be reduced at this time.
Haemmerle said the charges are alleged to have occurred between August 2005 and August 2014. The incidents are alleged to have occurred in Lincoln, Jerome, Twin Falls and Blaine counties. The case is being prosecuted through the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
Rodriguez was a Blaine County deputy between December 2004 and September 2011 and left his post voluntarily, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was elected sheriff of Lincoln County in 2016. Rodriguez had been on a requested leave of absence from his position as sheriff since Feb. 4, with Undersheriff Steve Phillips serving as sheriff in the interim, Lincoln County commissioners said.
According to Commissioner Roy Hubert, Rodriguez submitted a letter of resignation to the commissioners on Monday afternoon, and the commissioners amended their agenda to read the letter aloud for the record and formally accept his resignation.
In the handwritten letter by Rodriguez, dated April 8, he thanked the commissioners “for all you’ve done to help us at the Sheriff’s Office,” and said, “[I] hereby do resign my official position as Lincoln County Sheriff.”
Hubert said the commission immediately sent a letter to the Lincoln County Republican Central Committee, which will submit three candidates for sheriff to the county commissioners within 15 days. The commissioners will then have 15 days to select the new sheriff from the three candidates.