Militia group founder charged with 19 counts of grand theft

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The founder of a militia group in Idaho has been accused of keeping nearly $87,000 in rent payments meant for clients.

Brandon Curtiss, 43, of Payette, Idaho, was arrested Tuesday and has been charged with 19 counts of grand theft, The Idaho Statesman reported .

Curtiss collected rent payments on behalf of property owners through Curtiss Property Management and Liberty Property Management Company from 2013 to 2016, according to the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. He allegedly failed to give the rent money he collected to 19 property owners, including Leslie and Aaron Boyce of the Portland, Oregon, area.

They hired Curtiss in March 2013 to manage two four-plex apartments they bought in Boise.

Before the end of 2013, Curtiss allegedly stopped submitting rent payments, so the couple sued in Ada County District Court. They won a judgment of $19,726, plus $48,823 in attorney fees and costs. They haven't received any money from Curtiss, Leslie Boyce said Tuesday.

"It has taken way too long for the wheels of justice to begin turning," Boyce told the Idaho Statesman. "We look forward to seeing Brandon Curtiss answer before a judge and jury for what he has done."

State police began their investigation in May 2016 after 17 of Curtiss' clients filed complaints and met with lawyers at the Idaho Attorney General's Office.

Thirty-six members of his militia group known as "3% of Idaho" resigned in September 2016 after accusing Curtiss of improperly spending $2,901 in donations earmarked for four Idaho men accused in the 2014 armed standoff at Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch. State Police spokesman Tim Marsano declined to say Tuesday whether the investigation included those allegations.

The militia group's Facebook page hasn't been updated since October 2016, and its website was not active Tuesday.

Curtiss had joined a group of armed men who occupied the headquarters of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon, in January 2016 in a protest over grazing rights on federal land.

Curtiss is being held on $150,000 bail in a Boise jail and is set to make his first court appearance Wednesday. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney.

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