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Lewiston Morning Tribune Tuesday, February 3, 1998

Man convicted in custody case denies violating his probation

MOSCOW -- A 49-year-old Helmer man has denied allegations he violated probation by possessing a firearm and will appear in court Feb. 19 to tell a judge why he shouldn't be jailed.

Fred Leas, who is on probation for five years after pleading guilty last year to custodial interference in connection with his two young daughters, turned himself in to the Latah County Jail Saturday.

After being arraigned Monday afternoon before 2nd District Judge John Stegner, Leas said he has witnesses who will testify that they put the .22-caliber rifle in a bedroom of his house. He said he was unaware of its presence.

Probation officer Scott Hagen, according to court records, found the rifle Jan. 22 during a routine visit to Leas' house.

Latah County Prosecutor Robin Eckmann said the evidence will show Leas knew about the rifle and that it was against conditions of his probation.

Leas was released on his own recognizance. He continues to claim Eckmann and other officials have conspired to put him behind bars. A jury found guilty him of taking his daughters out of state in violation of a custody order. He and the girls were found in South Dakota.

Leas claims he didn't get a fair trial because, among other reasons, Stegner refused to let the Leas children testify in front of the jury. Leas said he took the children because he feared they would be in danger if he returned them to his ex-wife.

The children remain with their mother, Ruth Mohr, in Boise and a custody case between the parents is pending.

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Last modified: February 4, 1998
Email: Joe Huffman.