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Man sentenced for scamming Riverbend Communications

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - An Idaho Falls man was sentenced to prison on charges of grand theft Tuesday for scamming Riverbend Communications.

Bonneville County Prosecutor Bruce Pickett said Ryan D. Thueson, 34, will serve up to eight years in prison -- two years fixed and six years indeterminate. Thueson will be eligible for parole after two years.

In addition, 7th District Judge Joel Tingey ordered Thueson to pay $228,500 in restitution to Riverbend.  Pickett said the fine was based on the amount of money stolen.

Thueson was taken into custody immediately.  He will serve his time in a prison to be determined by the Department of Correction.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed two other felony charges of forgery and using a computer to defraud or obtain money or services.

The warrant stems from an investigation that began in September last year, when Riverbend Communications reported Thueson, who was doing business as 78 Productions.

Thueson was contracted by Riverbend Communications to bring Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum and others into the area to perform. Riverbend Communications gave Thueson money that was to be placed into a bank escrow account. The money was to ensure the performers would receive a minimum payment for their appearance. The money was collected over a period of time from September 2012 to September 2013.

Police said Thueson claimed to be working with a promoter for the entertainers, but the promoter was made up by Thueson. He forwarded emails and other documents to Riverbend Communications from the fake promoter, they said.

Deputy Prosecutor Trent Belnap said Thueson never had contact with any of the artists or agents. A search warrant of his bank accounts revealed Thueson spent the money on hotel rooms, concert tickets and bank card transactions across the country.  There were also several large cash withdrawals.  None of the money was recovered.

Police also said Thueson forged documents from the bank to Riverbend Communications.

In a statement, Riverbend Communications said it was pleased with the sentence. 

Idaho Falls-based Riverbend Communications owns several radio stations, including Classy 97, Z103, 105.5 The Hawk and K-Bear 101. It also focuses on events and outdoor advertising.

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