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Friday, October 24th 2014
Associated Press Montana News Summary

Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Stanford University officials are apologizing for election mailers that arrived at Montana homes that are part of a research project conducted by political science faculty members. The "2014 Montana General Election Voter Information Guide" mailers carry the Montana state seal and rate how liberal or conservative the four nonpartisan candidates for state Supreme Court are.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Facing mounting pressure, Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke says he is working to find and release a missing military record before the Nov. 4 election. Zinke says his staff is pressing the U.S. Navy to release a 1999 report that opponents say should show the circumstances in which he departed Navy SEAL Team 6.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Helena man who was charged with binding a woman with duct tape and stealing her prescription medication has been convicted of burglary, robbery and criminal possession of dangerous drugs. Prosecutors say Andrew Segura took a strong prescription pain patch and a bottle of muscle relaxants. Sentencing is set for Dec. 4.

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Federal drug charges have been filed against a woman who fled the Anaconda hospital after she and her newborn tested positive for methamphetamine. The Montana Standard reports Michelle Yallup also faces a forgery charge for allegedly signing her sister's name when she checked into the hospital in Anaconda June 17.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, October 24th 2014
Associated Press Montana News Summary

A Billings woman with four state felony convictions for having posed as a nurse to get painkillers admitted doing it again, only this time she was charged in federal court.

Laurie G. Dukart, 54, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Billings on Thursday to acquiring a controlled substance by fraud or deception.

During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters, Dukart told the judge she posed as a nurse in a doctor’s office, called in three prescriptions in the names of other people and picked up the drugs at Wal-Mart.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/billings-woman-admits-posing-as-nurse-to-get-painkillers/article_1552f449-a90b-513d-9e5e-e85ea633a7c3.html#ixzz3H43Tg0Ei

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An 85-year-old man is recovering at St. Vincent Healthcare after he was beaten last week and “left for dead” inside his Hardin home.

Big Horn County Undersheriff Mike Fuss said Curtis Wilson, 85, of Hardin, was attacked at his home on Oct. 17.

That evening Wilson reportedly looked out his window about 10:30 p.m. after noticing a light and saw a white car by his house.

Moments later, Wilson heard a knock at his door. When he answered, a man, who appeared to be in his 20s or 30s, asked him for a bottle of water.

When Wilson turned around, Fuss said, presumably to respond to the request, the man immediately struck Wilson in the head.

Fuss said the man either punched Wilson or hit him with a board.

Wilson fell back and tumbled down the basement stairs onto the floor, where one or more attackers proceeded to beat him with a 2-by-4. At some point, Wilson lost consciousness.

The attacker or attackers reportedly stole a 42-inch flat-screen TV from the home before leaving.

“He was left for dead,” Fuss said.

When Wilson woke the next day, he called his friend and then notified law enforcement.

Wilson was taken to Big Horn County Memorial Hospital and then life-flighted to St. Vincent Healthcare, where he has been since.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/blogs/crime-watch/year-old-hardin-man-attacked-left-for-dead-inside-his/article_a3187dc4-47ed-5176-ac1c-05013a3ad8c9.html#ixzz3H43uurFj

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Several months after he allegedly murdered a local homeless man, transient Kevin Joseph Lino has been brought back to Missoula and is being held in the Missoula County jail pending $250,000 bail.

Lino was booked into the jail Wednesday morning and made an initial appearance in court Thursday afternoon, where he told Justice of the Peace Amy Blixt he had a Lowell, Massachusetts, mailing address and his physical address was “anywhere I go.”

In response to Blixt’s queries about his employment, Lino replied that he was self-employed as a dog trainer.

Deputy County Attorney Shawn Thomas requested the $250,000 bail amount on Lino's warrant to be continued.
http://www.themissoulian.com

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Thursday, October 23rd 2014
Associated Press Montana News Summary

Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 23-year-old Billings man is charged with breaking into a house owned by his grandmother, changing the locks and living there without permission. The Gazette reports Ryan Dennis Guy was arrested Tuesday after his grandmother reported him to police. Prosecutors say Guy was under the influence of drugs and had several warrants for his arrest.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A Cascade County jury has awarded $4.3 million in damages to a BNSF Railway employee who was injured in a 2011 train collision caused by a switching error. The Great Falls Tribune reports conductor Michael Schnittgen was injured when the train he was on crashed into a parked maintenance train due to a switching error. BNSF acknowledged it was negligent but questioned the extent of Schnittgen's injuries.

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — An Idaho truck driver convicted in a fatal crash in North Dakota has been sentenced to serve three years in prison. A jury in August convicted Clark Christensen of negligent homicide for the May 2013 crash that killed 21-year-old Megan Shoal, a Minot State University student from Plentywood, Montana.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A nonpartisan race for Montana Supreme Court is taking on a distinctly partisan edge. Challenger Lawrence VanDyke is trying to cast Justice Mike Wheat as a liberal activist judge. Wheat says the money battle is a sad sign.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, October 23rd 2014
Associated Press Montana News Summary

Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press
MINOT, N.D. (AP) — An Idaho truck driver convicted in a fatal crash in North Dakota has been sentenced to serve three years in prison. A jury in August convicted Clark Christensen of negligent homicide for the May 2013 crash that killed 21-year-old Megan Shoal, a Minot State University student from Plentywood, Montana.

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — A Colorado man pleads guilty to the 2012 murder of Sidney teacher Sherry Arnold. A charge of attempted kidnapping against Michael Spell was dropped under a plea agreement. Prosecutors are recommending a 100-year sentence. Spell admitted that he and an accomplice killed Arnold. The accomplice also pleaded guilty.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A consultant for the Blackfeet Indian tribe has been sentenced to five years in prison and was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution after his conviction on fraud charges. Prosecutors alleged Gary Conti stole funds and kicked back $225,000 to leaders of the Po'Ka Project.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A nonpartisan race for Montana Supreme Court is taking on a distinctly partisan edge. Challenger Lawrence VanDyke is trying to cast Justice Mike Wheat as a liberal activist judge. Wheat says the money battle is a sad sign.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, October 23rd 2014
Associated Press Montana News Summary

Here is the latest Montana news from The Associated Press
SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to the 2012 murder of a Montana teacher in an oil boom town where residents say their lives were forever altered by the crime. Prosecutors are recommending a 100-year sentence for Michael Spell. They want Spell to serve his time in prison. Attorneys for Spell want the mentally disabled 25-year-old from Parachute, Colorado, committed to a state institution for the disabled.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A consultant for the Blackfeet Indian tribe who was convicted in a multi-million dollar fraud case as well as bankruptcy fraud has been sentenced to five years in prison and was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution. Prosecutors alleged the defendant stole money from the program and falsified invoices to make it look like the tribe was contributing its share to the program to keep the federal money coming in.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 38-year-old Billings man has pleaded guilty to shooting at a fast-food worker and a police officer in an agreement that calls for a 55-year prison sentence. Prosecutors say Justin Delacruz demanded money from a Sonic Drive-in employee early July 6 before opening fire.

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A 43-year-old Missoula man who tried to make his girlfriend cut a tattoo of his name off her chest and then beat her unconscious has been given a deferred sentence, even though the judge said he doesn't think he can remain law abiding for three years. The Missoulian Joe Gallegos pleaded guilty. Gallegos must register as a violent offender.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, October 23rd 2014
Associated Press Montana News Summary

Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
MONTANA TEACHER KILLED

Colorado man pleads guilty to oil patch murder

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to the 2012 murder of a Montana teacher in an oil boom town where residents say their lives were forever altered by the crime.

Montana District Judge Richard Simonton on Wednesday accepted the guilty plea from Michael Keith Spell on a count of deliberate homicide. A charge of attempted kidnapping was dropped under a plea agreement.

Prosecutors are recommending a 100-year sentence. They want Spell to serve his time in prison.

Attorneys for Spell want the mentally disabled 25-year-old from Parachute, Colorado, committed to a state institution for the disabled.

Spell admitted that he and an accomplice killed Sherry Arnold during an attempted abduction as the 43-year-old Sidney High School math teacher was out for a pre-dawn jog. The accomplice pleaded guilty last year and is awaiting sentencing.

BLACKFEET CHILDREN-EMBEZZLEMENT

Blackfeet consultant sentenced for kickbacks

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A consultant for the Blackfeet Indian tribe who was convicted in a multi-million dollar fraud case as well as bankruptcy fraud has been sentenced to five years in prison and was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution.

Gary Joseph Conti of Three Forks was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls to five years on each of 29 counts, to run concurrently.

Prosecutors alleged Conti received $475,000 over a three-year period as a consultant to a federally funded program for troubled youth and kicked back $225,000 to Francis Onstad and Delyle "Shanny" Augare, leaders of the Po'Ka Project.

Prosecutors alleged the defendants stole money from the program and falsified invoices to make it look like the tribe was contributing its share to the program to keep the federal money coming in.

TRIBAL THEFT

Former tribal health director sentenced to 1 year

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced the former head of the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation's health care system to a year in prison for using tribal money to visit her husband while he was in federal prison for stealing tribal money.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Great Falls also ordered Fawn Tadios to pay $15,000 in restitution during her sentencing hearing Tuesday.

A jury convicted Tadios on three counts of theft in June.

Prosecutors say Tadios used federal money meant for the tribal health department to visit former Chippewa Cree chairman Jake Parker, Jr., in prison in South Dakota. Parker was given a 16-month sentence in November 2011 after pleading guilty to putting $59,000 in personal charges on a tribal credit card. He also was ordered to pay restitution.

SUPREME COURT-ELECTIONS

Supreme Court race takes on partisan edge

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A nonpartisan race for Montana Supreme Court is taking on a distinctly partisan edge.

Challenger Lawrence VanDyke is trying to cast Justice Mike Wheat as a liberal activist judge. VanDyke's Republican backers are pouring tens of thousands of dollars into ads to support that message.

Wheat and his supporters in turn have taken to the airwaves with their own ads in the type of election that is often an afterthought on the ballot.

Wheat says the money battle is a sad sign that the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision that allowed increased corporate spending in federal elections has arrived at the state's down-ticket races.

Wheat is campaigning to keep the seat he was appointed to in 2010 by then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer. VanDyke is the former state solicitor general.

OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING

Man pleads guilty to shooting at worker, officer

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 38-year-old Billings man has pleaded guilty to shooting at a fast-food worker and a police officer who responded to the shooting in an agreement that calls for a 55-year prison sentence.

Justin Wesley Delacruz pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of attempted deliberate homicide with a weapons enhancement along with felony robbery, criminal endangerment and possession of meth.

Prosecutors say he demanded money from a Sonic Drive-in employee early July 6, fired shots at the employee and then shot through the windshield of a responding officer's car. The two men engaged in a shootout that ended when Delacruz's gun jammed and he threw the weapon.

Police Chief Rich St. John has said Delacruz had been drinking and smoking PCP-laced cigarettes and had meth in his possession.

Delacruz has been jailed on $1 million bail since his arrest.

TATTOO CUTTING THREAT

Man gets deferred sentence in domestic assault

(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A 43-year-old Missoula man who tried to make his girlfriend cut a tattoo of his name off her chest and then beat her unconscious has been given a deferred sentence, even though the judge said he doesn't think he can remain law abiding for three years.

The Missoulian reports District Judge Dusty Deschamps sentenced Joe Rene Gallegos Tuesday, giving him credit for 86 days he's spent in jail since his arrest in late July.

Gallegos pleaded guilty to felony partner assault and assault with a weapon.

Prosecutors say Gallegos and his girlfriend were arguing over a Facebook post made by Gallegos' ex-wife and Gallegos got violent when the girlfriend said she was leaving him.

Gallegos must register as a violent offender, stay away from the victim as well as alcohol, illegal drugs, guns and gambling.

PLENTYWOOD FATAL

Woman dies in crash near Plentywood

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 34-year-old woman died in a two-vehicle crash on Montana Highway 5 in northeastern Montana.

Sheridan County Coroner Dave Fulkerson identified the victim as Julia Perkins. He told The Billings Gazette that Perkins had a Nebraska driver's license but her family was contacted in West Des Moines, Iowa.

The Montana Highway Patrol says Perkins was driving eastbound near Plentywood at about 6:10 p.m. Tuesday when she abruptly hit the brakes. Her car slid into the westbound lane and collided with a car driven by a 46-year-old man from Webster, North Dakota.

Perkins died at the scene. Her passenger, a man in his 30s, was ejected from the vehicle. Both he and the North Dakota man were taken to the hospital in Plentywood.

Fulkerson says Perkins had some medical conditions that could have contributed to the crash.

CAR HITS BOY

Helena boy struck by car, injured

(Information in the following story is from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Police in Helena say an 8-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk and the driver was cited for failure to yield.

Lt. Torey Keltner says the boy was upset and crying when emergency responders arrived and he was taken to the hospital. His condition was not immediately known.

The Independent Record reports the boy, his mother and sister were crossing the street on a green light Tuesday afternoon when a car turned and struck the boy.

Police say the driver of the vehicle initially intended to go straight through the intersection, but decided to turn right due to the high volume of traffic. The driver was cited for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

POLICE DOG EUTHANIZED

Police dog euthanized after biting officers

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A Great Falls police dog has been euthanized after unprovoked attacks on three officers.

Police Chief Dave Bowen says the K-9 Shep was removed from duty recently after biting his new handler.

Shep was then returned to his original handler's home, but continued to show aggressive behavior toward the handler and his family.

Bowen says Shep bit his handler on Friday and then bit another officer.

He says the attacks were out of character for Shep, who had been on duty for about three years. Two of the officers went to the emergency room for treatment. All three are recovering, with one still on light duty.

There are no immediate plans to replace Shep. The department has two other K-9 units.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wednesday, October 22nd 2014
Associated Press Montana News Summary

Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
SENATE-MONTANA-DEBATE

Daines, Curtis clash on government role in energy

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Amanda Curtis clashed over energy and the government's role in the industry during the first U.S. Senate debate in Montana's oil patch.

Tuesday night's event in Sidney was only the second meeting of the candidates. It's likely to be the last ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Daines, a first-term congressman from Bozeman, hammered on a theme of Washington, D.C., bureaucratic overreach. He singled out the Environmental Protection Agency for hindering coal, oil and gas production.

Curtis sought to play up her working class roots, as she did during a Monday debate in Billings.

The Butte math teacher and state legislator stressed her support for coal miners and refinery workers, while warning that large corporations shouldn't have excessive influence over the state's natural resources.

HOUSE-MONTANA-DEBATE

US House candidates meet for final debate

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat John Lewis sparred over the nation's health-care overhaul in their final debate in Montana's U.S. House race.

They were joined Tuesday by Libertarian Mike Fellows, who advocated for cutting government.

They met in Great Falls in the third debate with all three candidates before the Nov. 4 election to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. Daines is leaving the seat to run for U.S. Senate.

Zinke supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, and he attempted to place the blame for the health law squarely on Lewis' shoulders. Zinke says Lewis must have at least helped draft it as a longtime aide to former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, the bill's sponsor.

Lewis denied writing any part of the law as Baucus' state director, calling the idea ridiculous.

MONTANA TEACHER KILLED

Man plans to plead guilty in oil patch killing

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — A Colorado man plans to plead guilty to killing a Montana teacher in a case that drew attention to the darker side of the Northern Plains' oil boom.

A plea agreement with prosecutors filed Tuesday calls for a 100-year sentence for 25-year-old Michael Spell on a charge of deliberate homicide.

Spell is charged with the 2012 murder of Sherry Arnold, a 43-year-old Sidney high school teacher who disappeared while jogging. Her body was found buried in a North Dakota field.

Spell is due in court Wednesday before District Judge Richard Simonton in Sidney.

Prosecutors want Spell to serve his time in prison. The defense will ask for him to be sentenced to the state health department, which would allow Spell to be sent to a facility for the mentally disabled.

GAY MARRIAGE-MONTANA

Judge sets November hearing in gay marriage case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has set a Nov. 20 hearing in Great Falls for arguments in a lawsuit challenging Montana's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled the hearing Monday after four gay couples filed a motion for summary judgment that asks the judge to decide the case without a trial.

The couples are backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. ACLU officials have said that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to strike down similar gay-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada should mean a favorable ruling for the Montana couples.

Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes has said the U.S. Supreme Court could still take up the issue in the future, so state attorneys plan to continue to defend the state's constitutional ban.

MONTANA UNEMPLOYMENT

Montana's unemployment rate down to 4.6 percent

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point to 4.6 percent in September.

The national unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent last month.

The Department of Labor says payroll estimates show the state added 1,900 jobs in September, but the increase was 983 jobs when taking agricultural workers and the self-employed into account. Montana's labor force increased by 694 workers in September while the number of unemployed declined by 289 workers.

Montana's unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in January. Payroll employment has added 9.700 jobs so far this year.

CASCADE DEPUTY KILLED

Widow wants new prosecutor in deputy's death

(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The widow of a Cascade County deputy who was struck and killed during a car chase wants someone other than the county attorney prosecuting the case against the driver, who reportedly swerved and intentionally struck her husband.

Robynn Dunn told the Great Falls Tribune on Monday that County Attorney John Parker was the reason Adam Sanchez Jr. was out of jail at the time of the chase in which her husband suffered fatal injuries while trying to place stop sticks.

Sanchez is charged with deliberate homicide in Deputy Joe Dunn's death on Aug. 14.

Sanchez had been released from jail just two weeks earlier after he reached a plea agreement that called for a probationary sentence in another chase and Parker dismissed separate drug and firearms charges in anticipation of federal charges being filed.

Parker says he intends to prosecute the case.

CANDIDATE-JOB LOSS

Weatherman's opponent seeks equal radio time

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings lawmaker whose demand for equal time cost his challenger his job as a weatherman on a local radio station is now seeking equal time from a Miles City radio station where Democrat John Pulasky delivers the weather several times a day.

The Billings Gazette reports Republican Rep. Clayton Fiscus is asking KATL for air time equal to that spent by Pulasky when he gives weather reports — just under 10 minutes per day.

KATL station manager Donald Richard says Billings isn't part of the area in which the station provides city-grade service and he won't grant Fiscus' request.

Fiscus' May complaint cost Pulasky his job with Northern Broadcasting, where he had worked for 24 years. Pulasky is now doing the weather for radio stations in Lewistown, Miles City, Plentywood and Wolf Point, but is making less money.

TOBACCO THEFT

Tobacco products stolen from shipping company

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Missoula-area shipping company has reported the theft of about $30,000 in tobacco products.

Missoula County sheriff's spokeswoman Paige Pavalone says when North Park Transportation employees reported to work Monday morning they found a back door to one of their shipping platforms was open.

Pavalone says the thieves took 17 cases of products including, tobacco, chewing tobacco, cigarettes and cigars.

Company officials believe an employee or someone with a key may be responsible.

LOCKWOOD SHOOTING-TRIAL DELAYED

Shooting trial delayed, witnesses doesn't show

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings woman who did not show up to testify at her husband's deliberate homicide trial was arrested on a material witness warrant and another warrant charging her with possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

The Billings Gazette reports 26-year-old Tricia Marie Scott was arrested Monday, just hours after the trial for 27-year-old Martin Pond Jr. was vacated and rescheduled for Dec. 1. Witnesses and dozens of potential jurors were sent home.

Pond is charged with shooting and killing 52-year-old Allen Douglas Alderman at Alderman's residence in Lockwood on Jan. 3. Charging documents say Scott was at Alderman's house when Pond showed up and the two men got in to an argument.

Pond remains jailed with bail set at $500,000.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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