COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Dr. Stanley Toelle and his wife Loren Toelle lived in different worlds, linked at the least by his money and her ambition and appetite for fun.
He lived in a large house overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene, had a thriving gastroenterology practice and nurtured a fondness for local craft beer.
She lived in Las Vegas near her adult children, started a beauty salon and danced in strip clubs. She drove a Chrysler luxury sedan and a Cadillac Escalade with the vanity plates “STAN4ME.”
Together, they went on cruises and vacationed in Hawaii. He gave her nice jewelry and helped pay her bills to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, even helping buy Vegas-area homes for her kids.
“Proud of my wife. She has a vision for the family,” he wrote in an April 2015 Facebook post.
That same month, speaking of her Vegas Stylz salon, she posted on Facebook, “Ready to build this empire for the family.”
That empire wasn’t being built on styling gel and hair extensions, but on sales of heroin, methamphetamine and oxycodone pills, according to federal prosecutors. Investigators say the drugs were moved from Nevada and California to Idaho, Washington, Montana and North Dakota from 2009 until early this year.
The narcotics were sold in Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, Las Vegas, Missoula and parts of North Dakota, including Williston, Fargo and in and around the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, court records state.
And although Stanley Toelle’s money flowed freely to support his wife’s lifestyle, he was kept in the dark about the alleged multistate drug trafficking and money laundering enterprise, according to a signed statement by Loren Toelle filed in U.S. District Court.
“If I am called to testify in trial, I will make it abundantly clear that Stanley Toelle was never part of any organization which was distributing narcotics and concealing or laundering the proceeds,” she said in a declaration filed by her husband’s defense attorney.
She also wrote, “I am ashamed that by concealing my actions from Stanley Toelle I have now placed both his livelihood and reputation in jeopardy.”
Loren Toelle also is seeking to buffer her husband’s property and assets from possible seizure by federal authorities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Idaho is seeking forfeiture of at least $1.3 million in cash, Stanley Toelle’s 4,700-square-foot house overlooking Silver Beach on Lake Coeur d’Alene, three homes in Las Vegas and eight vehicles, including four registered to Loren Toelle and two registered to Stanley Toelle.
A federal indictment outlining the criminal enterprise names both Loren and Stanley Toelle as well as three of her children, her brother and several family friends. The operation netted at least $1.3 million in proceeds since 2009, prosecutors allege.
Stanley Toelle, a gastroenterologist who worked for Kootenai Health, is charged with conspiracy to launder money, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The hospital terminated his employment after his arrest in February.
Loren Toelle, his wife of 10 years, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of oxycodone and conspiracy to launder money. She could receive up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
She said she never told her husband about any distribution of narcotics, nor asked him to hide or launder illegal funds. “In fact, I made every effort to conceal my activities from Stanley Toelle,” she said in her statement.
He has filed for divorce, while she remains in federal custody awaiting trial next year.
Nicolas Vieth, a Coeur d’Alene attorney representing Stanley Toelle, said his office has spent months investigating if the doctor had any role in or knowledge of the alleged drug ring, including a review of his personal finances.
“We’re innocent here, we need to move forward, dismiss this, so that my client can move on with his life, get a divorce and get back to practicing medicine, because he was a very well-respected physician here, and his patients loved him,” Vieth said.
“He truly didn’t have anything to do with it,” the lawyer added. “. Unfortunately, he was kind of rolled up in this group and trusted his wife, quite frankly.”
Asked about the declaration of Loren Toelle and others who also vouched for Stanley Toelle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan in Coeur d’Alene said, “We’re evaluating that in light of what all the evidence is in the whole case.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Hall in Boise said he can’t comment on the facts of the case outside of court proceedings.
“The case will be tried through the court, and that’s the only way we can do it,” Hall said.
Stanley Toelle met Loren in Las Vegas in 2005, and they were married on Aug. 13, 2006. It was her fourth marriage, and all five of her children “needed both financial and emotional support,” she said in her statement.
Loren lived in Las Vegas while her husband lived in Coeur d’Alene and gave her a monthly allowance. She said she also asked him for money on occasion to pay bills, with the understanding she would pay him back when she could.
“Over the years, I told Stanley Toelle that I had several business pursuits, including a daycare, hair salon, and the sale of hair extensions and other beauty supplies,” she wrote. She also told her husband, “I was dancing at various men’s clubs and also pursuing real estate investment in the Las Vegas area.”
Over a seven-year period, Stanley Toelle paid $1.3 million for credit card payments, rent and mortgage payments, car loans, utilities and other expenses on behalf of his wife, according to an accountant’s review of his bank records requested by the doctor’s attorney. That includes $49,200 in checks directly to Loren Toelle, the preliminary review by Coeur d’Alene CPA Ben Johnston found.
Loren deposited about $242,000 in her husband’s personal accounts over the same period, Johnston said in his report, which also was filed in federal court in connection with the criminal case.
Compared with the $1.3 million Stanley Toelle provided, he was reimbursed at a fraction of what he paid directly to Loren Toelle or on behalf of her various family members, Johnston wrote.
He said that Stanley Toelle, with a thriving medical practice, had no incentive to take part in money laundering or fraud. In his professional opinion, Johnston said, the doctor did not take part in laundering money.
In her declaration filed with the court, Loren Toelle sought to explain her financial relationship with her husband. “Stanley Toelle was told that funds were needed to be paid on certain bills or deposited into various accounts in order to cover assorted debts and obligations,” she said. “At no time did I ever reveal to (him) that I was operating a drug conspiracy or that the money I requested was for an illegal purpose.”
Despite those statements, Loren Toelle has not pleaded guilty to any of the charges. Her declaration was given outside of any plea agreement. Her lawyer, Terence Ryan of Spokane, said he had no comment.
Three of the 11 people indicted in the case in April have pleaded guilty. They include Loren Toelle’s daughter, Sherlann Simon, of North Las Vegas, Nevada, who admitted to laundering $482,955 in drug profits.
Simon, 34, deposited the money in her personal bank accounts and business accounts belonging to Vegas Stylz House of Beauty, which she co-owned with her mother, prosecutors said. When sentenced in January, Simon could receive up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Co-defendants Geena L. Milho, 25, and Augustine Jackson, 32, both of Williston, North Dakota, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, oxycodone and meth. They face up to 20 years in prison.
Toelle’s sons, Sean and Steven Jackson, her brother Robert L. Hill, and three others – Jessica N. Frederick, Kristin R. Wilson and William J. Barker – also were indicted in the case. Steven and Sean Jackson and Jessica Fredrick are set to plead guilty within the next month, according to court documents.
A trial is scheduled for next March.
In proclaiming that her husband is innocent and was ignorant of any criminal operation, Loren Toelle’s declaration also seeks to separate Stanley Toelle’s property and assets from what the government intends to seize under federal forfeiture laws.
Her husband was the sole owner or purchaser of his home on Silver Beach Road, two Bank of America checking accounts, a 2002 Cadillac Escalade, a 2010 Nissan Murano, a tennis bracelet and wedding rings, Loren Toelle said. He also was the primary contributor to the purchase of three homes in Las Vegas, she said.
In other declarations filed in the case, Loren Toelle’s mother called Stanley Toelle “a generous and kind man.” A nurse in his practice said he “is overly generous for the downtrodden.” She also said she witnessed Loren Toelle “be verbally abusive to Stanley Toelle and both demanding and controlling.”
Dr. Toelle and Dr. Gavin Young opened North Idaho Endoscopy in 2002. The practice was acquired by Kootenai Health in 2013, and the medical operations transitioned to Kootenai Clinic Endoscopy.
In a court declaration of his own, Young described his business partner as kind, generous, honest and “very diligent about following all applicable rules and regulations regarding our business dealings.”
Young also wrote that he never had any reason to believe Stanley Toelle was involved in any illegal activity. He also commented on Loren Toelle’s 2010 conviction in Kootenai County for delivery of narcotics. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of probation after she pleaded guilty in 1st District Court. Stanley Toelle helped pay her legal bills.
Stanley Toelle was surprised by his wife’s 2010 arrest and “blindsided by this current case as well,” Young said in his statement. Loren Toelle told her husband she was selling hair extensions in North Dakota and engaging in legal business ventures, and he had no reason to question her, Young said.
He met with his business partner about a week after Toelle’s arrest in February, “and he was so distraught that he was crying when describing the present allegations,” Young said.
“I have a great deal of sympathy for Stanley Toelle because the activities of others have essentially ruined both his reputation and career,” Young said.
Toelle is not now practicing medicine, and his state medical licenses are set to expire in December and June.
In 2015, Toelle was reprimanded by the Idaho State Board of Medicine over allegations he prescribed excessive amounts of controlled substances to patients, including those addicted to narcotics or hallucinogenic drugs.
Toelle denied the allegations but waived his right to a formal hearing, and he agreed to only write prescriptions for pain medication for patients who have a confirmed diagnosis of an abdominal condition treated by gastroenterologists.