IDAHO FALLS – The former Jefferson County prosecutor appeared in court Tuesday, revealing new details about the night he was arrested for alleged drug possession.
Robin Dunn, 67, also formerly served as the city attorney for Roberts and Ririe. He was arrested around 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 18 after reportedly being found with multiple “dirty 30” fentanyl pills in the parking lot of a local restaurant.
Dunn was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor use or possession of drug paraphernalia, and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers.
During the preliminary hearing, Dunn was conversational during breaks, even cracking jokes about his mugshot. Multiple witnesses testified, describing the night in front of Magistrate Judge Jason Walker.
According to multiple witnesses, the reporting party told dispatch a woman had been “nodding off” in the restaurant and looked under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They then stated she was now in a car with a man in the parking lot, and they were worried that she was going to try to drive.
One witness, Officer Matthew Matherly with Idaho Falls Police Department, told the court he was one of the arresting officers on the scene that night.
Matherly identified the woman in the driver’s seat as Vivian Exler and the male passenger as Dunn.
“I could see that her eyes were bloodshot and watery while I was speaking to her,” Matherly said. “I asked her for her ID, and she couldn’t find it. She just seemed really despondent while I was trying to ascertain what was going on.”
Matherly saw that although the inside of the car was clean, there were multiple items of drug paraphernalia out in the open.
“The vehicle was relatively clean, there wasn’t junk or clutter or anything of that nature, but on the floorboard behind the driver’s seat, I saw a red straw with a burnt end, along with a roll of aluminum foil in the box on the rear passenger side of the vehicle,” said Matherly. “Both of those items are indicators to me of narcotics use.”
Officers also testified that during a later search of the car, they found a check made out to Exler from Dunn for a total of $7,900.
Soon, Officer John Bestor and his K9 partner arrived to help and continued to try to find out the circumstances of the situation.
“She denied all of it, saying she was not under the influence and never passed out at the table. But while I was speaking to her, Officer Bestor told me that his K9 had indicated a positive hit on the vehicle and that there were narcotics,” said Matherly. “(Exler) was handcuffed and put in the backseat of my patrol vehicle.”
As for Dunn, Matherly says he refused to consent to a search and identified himself as a lawyer. Mathery then patted him down and discovered packaged Narcan in his left front shirt pocket. Narcan is a medication used to reverse an opioid overdose.
The defense later told the court Matherly is heard referencing the Narcan on body camera footage, saying to his fellow officers, “With his clientele, it’s probably something he should have.” Matherly later told the court he found the situation humorous.
The officer then separately asked Exler and Dunn what their relationship was. Both had different stories.
“She claimed that he was her uncle. My concern when I first walked up to the car was that I could see her pants were undone, and I thought it odd that she was in a car with her uncle, and her pants were undone,” Matherly said. “She said she was having bowel issues and that she was going to defecate on herself, and that’s why her pants were undone.”
Matherly says Dunn told officers that Exler was his client, and they were meeting to talk about evidence for an active case.
Court records show Exler is currently facing a felony count of possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor for use or possession of drug paraphernalia in Madison County. Court records show Dunn was originally her attorney, but since his arrest, he was removed from the case.
Exler has not been charged in relation to this case.
“He described her as an old family friend, and then after said she was a client of his,” Matherly said. “They were going to go over evidence for an upcoming trial.”
Officers eventually were able to search Dunn after telling him he would be going to jail and would receive additional charges if he got there and was found with illegal substances.
Matherly says they found a straw and burnt tin foil in his pants pocket and multiple baggies of fentanyl pills or “dirty 30s”, along with a blue medicine bottle containing Xanex, in his boot.
Walker ended the hearing by ruling that there was probable cause to bind Dunn’s case over to the District Court.
Dunn did not testify during proceedings and is scheduled to attend his district court arraignment on May 16.
He could face up to 10 years in prison and $18,000 in fines if convicted.
Even though Dunn has been charged with a crime, he is presumed innocent until a jury finds him guilty or innocent or he pleads guilty.
In addition to serving in Roberts and Ririe, Dunn served as the Rigby City Attorney for nearly three decades before stepping down at the end of last year to “redirect his career,” The Jefferson Star reported.
He worked as the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney for 34 years before retiring in 2016.
In March, District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. appointed a special prosecutor in the case, although it is not clear why the appointment was made. EastIdahoNews.com has reached out to the Office of the Attorney General for an explanation, and we will update if they respond.
EastIdahoNews.com contacted Dunn’s law office multiple times for comment, but nobody answered the phone.