Ex-construction lobby chief convicted of fraud

BOISE, Idaho — A highway construction company owner who once led one of Idaho’s most-powerful building groups was convicted Thursday of 22 criminal counts, including filing false tax returns and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. of millions of dollars.

Elaine Martin of Meridian, a former Associated General Contractors president in Idaho, was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Boise following a 26-day jury trial. She faces potential punishment of decades behind bars at her sentencing, slated for Dec. 9.

In additional to possible prison time, the U.S. government is demanding Martin forfeit more than $9.2 million, which prosecutors say she gained from criminal conduct.

Additionally, Darrell Swigert, a prominent Idaho hockey promoter and Martin’s business partner, will be sentenced in December after he was convicted at the same trial of crimes including obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors said Martin and Swigert are the owners of a highway guard rail installer, MarCon Inc., that does work in Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.

They say she caused false tax returns to be filed, concealing her wealth while participating in a federal program to help economically and socially disadvantaged businesses.

Prosecutors say Swigert joined Martin by fabricating documents and making false statements that sought to conceal the true nature, source, and extent of her wealth.

“This verdict should send a clear message, income tax evasion is unacceptable and those who attempt to commit such fraud will be brought to justice,” said Stephen Boyd, the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation special agent-in-charge in Idaho.

Among other things, MarCon grew to prominence by installing many of the barriers on the freeway project in Boise known as “The Flying Wye” that helps connect the city’s downtown with U.S. Interstate 84.

Martin didn’t immediately return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.

Neither did her son, Tory Martin, who assumed control of MarCon in May when his mother was indicted.

Swigert, who founded the Junior Steelheads hockey team in 2009, didn’t return a phone call Thursday seeking comment. He faces up to five years in prison.

Wayne Hammon, executive director of the Associated General Contractors in Idaho, said his group wasn’t privy to details underpinning the federal charges against Martin or Swigert.

“We’re not involved in any of the members’ individual business activities,” Hammond said. “I know Elaine. She has served the AGC well, but that’s about all. I don’t know anything about her business operation.”

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