POCATELLO, Idaho — The Bannock County Sheriff's Office announced it has placed one of its deputies on administrative leave after she was charged in connection with the death of a decorated speedskater in Cottonwood Heights.
Marina Billings and her husband, Robert Billings, are accused of exploiting and contributing to the death of 68-year-old Boris Leikin.
Police said Leikin died from mad cow disease and that they are unsure if the couple intentionally sickened him.
Friends said they noticed Leikin becoming ill after he met Marina Billings online on a Russian community website. The two started dating, and she moved in with Leikin at his home in Cottonwood Heights.
At least at first, Leikin did not know Marina Billings was married, according to police.
Investigators now believe the couple was trying to take advantage of Leikin by getting him to sign a will that would name Marina Billings as the owner of his house as his health was deteriorating.
Marina Billings was hired on July 21, 2014 as a booking deputy.
Sheriff Tony Manu sent an email to FOX 13 News explaining Marina Billings' employment status.
"(Marina) Billings will remain on administrative leave while the County conducts an internal investigation regarding Bannock County policies," Manu wrote. "The Bannock County Sheriff's Office expects the highest professional conduct of its employees both on-and off-duty, which includes conformance to laws."
On Friday, Jan. 7, the Billings made the following public statement through their attorneys:
"Mr. and Ms. Billings were and remain saddened by the unexplained death of their close friend Boris Leikin. Mr. Leikin’s death is no doubt a tragedy to all those whom he loved and to whom loved him.
"With that said, the charges filed against the Billings are nothing more than government overreach in their attempt to use his tragic death for sensationalism that ignores the evidence.
"The Billings ask through their attorneys of record Gregory Ferbrache, Ferbrache Law, and Joshua Baron, SB Legal, that you reserve your judgement for the proper forum in this matter and at a time when the Billings can vindicate their name with the evidence, that being at jury trial."