Officials Declare Office Vacant After Sheriff Disappears

After weeks without any word from Sheriff Jim Dorion vacant, Nez Perce County commissioners have voted to declare his office vacant.

The commissioners agreed Monday that Dorion could no longer be considered a county resident and decided to withhold his paycheck for August. The move leaves the county's Democratic Central Committee with 15 days to select candidates for a replacement and another two weeks to decide who should get the job.

Nearly four months ago Dorion began a 90-day paid medical leave after announcing he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That leave ended July 30, County Prosecutor Dan Spickler said.

Chief Deputy Dale Buttrey, who has been acting sheriff since May, said the last time he spoke with Dorion, the sheriff said he was going to Texas for treatment.

Commissioners wanted Dorion for evaluation of whether to grant another 90 days of paid medical leave but have been unable to contact him.

"Since beginning the leave, we have had no communication with Sheriff Dorion whatsoever," Spickler told the commissioners. "It has been 25 days since the leave expired and, to the best of our knowledge, Sheriff Dorion has not been in the county, not been in the office, not doing the duties for which he is required."

Dorion sold his Lewiston Orchards house, and all mail was forwarded to his parents' home in Lewiston, which is in the county, officials said.

Darlene Dorion, his mother, would not comment to the Lewiston Tribune, except to say that her son is ill and needs privacy.

Idaho laws prohibit county officials from being absent from the state for more than 20 days without the consent of county commissioners.

The county, Spickler said, is in an unusual situation because there have been no similar cases in Idaho in recent memory.