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No end in sight for Yellowstone Club founder's jail time
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The founder of a Montana club for the ultra-rich will stay in jail until a federal judge is satisfied that he understands what happened to the money from a Mexican resort sold in violation of a court order.
Tim Blixseth has spent more than two months in jail since U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon found him in contempt for not accounting for the 2011 Tamarindo resort sale.
After a Thursday hearing, it's clear Blixseth won't be freed anytime soon. Haddon told attorneys for Blixseth and the Yellowstone Club's creditors he may appoint an independent examiner to scrutinize thousands of disputed documents.
Haddon ordered a trial-like hearing to decide whether Blixseth has accounted for the sale proceeds. He gave the attorneys until July 10 to decide how much time they need to prepare.
Second lobbying complaint contends CSKT omitted reports
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A second complaint has been lodged with the state contending the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes omitted reports of their lobbying efforts at the Montana Legislature this year.
Walter Morris of Twin Bridges and Terry Threlkeld of Gallatin Gateway filed the argument with the Commissioner of Political Practices Wednesday.
Morris and Threlkeld say the CSKT should have disclosed in lobbying reports their contributions to the lobbying organization, Farmers and Ranchers for Montana. FARM acted in favor of the Flathead Indian Reservation water compact that passed through the Legislature this session.
The complaint is similar to one brought by Flathead County Republican Chairman Jayson Peters against the tribes in April.
The tribes denied wrongdoing in a response to the April complaint and said that grassroots lobbying, like FARM's activities, is not required to be reported.
MONTANA TORNADO DAMAGE
Tornado tosses mobile home 60 feet, injuring Montana man
SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — A tornado picked up a single-wide trailer in eastern Montana and threw it onto a storage shed about 60 feet away, injuring a 79-year-old man and his dog.
The National Weather Service in Glasgow says a storm unleashed a tornado with winds estimated at 100 mph and dropped hail up to 2 inches in diameter Tuesday evening about 17 miles southeast of Sidney, near the North Dakota line.
A photo of the damage shows the frame of the trailer wrapped around a pickup truck and the shed in shambles. A separate single-wide trailer used for storage was upended and landed on its top.
The man was taken to the hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries. Weather officials did not have his name or know how badly he was hurt.
Low water levels prompt fishing restrictions
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Low water levels have state wildlife officials reducing fishing hours in certain western and southwestern Montana waterways heading into Independence Day weekend.
Beginning Friday, fishing won't be allowed from 2 p.m. to midnight on Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers, as well as certain parts of Silver Bow and Flint creeks and the Clark Fork River. The restrictions also apply to the entire length of the Jefferson River and the entire length of the Big Hole River except for the stretch from Dickey Bridge to the Maiden Rock fishing access site.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries managers say afternoon heat combined with low water flows stress the fish.
Fisheries Manager Pat Saffel says the restrictions are being put into place earlier in the year than usual.
The reduced fishing hours will be in place until further notice.
FLATHEAD FIREWORKS CANCELLED
Flathead County bans fireworks, including public shows
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — The Flathead County commissioners unanimously voted to ban the use of fireworks throughout the county, on both public and private lands, due to a weekend forecast that calls for warm temperatures and sustained winds.
Thursday morning's decision cancels fireworks displays on Flathead Lake and a popular private show put on by former San Francisco 49ers owner at Eddie DeBartolo Jr. at his Candy Bar Ranch near Whitefish.
Whitefish Fire Chief Joe Page canceled that city's fireworks display, which is set off from a barge on Whitefish Lake. In both 2013 and 2014 a fire started on the barge. The city planned to use fire-proof decking this year to avoid a repeat fire.
Numerous other counties in western Montana have banned fireworks, as has Butte-Silver Bow County and the town of Deer Lodge. A public show in Butte will go on as scheduled.
Montana Supreme Court orders Billings lawyer disbarred
(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings attorney has been disbarred for misconduct after he misused a client's funds.
The Billings Gazette reports the Montana Supreme Court ordered Randy Laedeke's disbarment and imposed more than $65,000 restitution to people entitled to recover damages for the death of William Newberg.
Newberg died in April 2005 from injuries suffered in a vehicle accident. Laedeke was hired by Newberg's window and he obtained a $300,000 settlement in the case. Under their agreement, Laedeke could have received a maximum of $120,000.
Laedeke paid himself more than $183,000 for fees and another $32,000 in expense reimbursements.
The justices said Laedeke had blatantly disregarded his obligations as an attorney.
Laedeke had been on an indefinite suspension since January for another complaint. He could not be reached for comment.
Yellowstone loses radio frequencies used to track wildlife
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Government researchers have lost their license to a set of radio frequencies used to track more than 100 radio-collared wolves and elk at Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone biologist Doug Smith said Thursday that new licensee Northwestern Energy is letting the research work continue, allowing the park to avoid more than $450,000 in estimated costs to restart the program.
Smith says radio signals from collared wildlife experienced interference this past winter after NorthWestern acquired the frequencies, but researchers still could track the animals.
The license used by the park accidentally was allowed to expire several years ago.
Park service emails obtained by the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility show officials were concerned the loss of monitoring data would jeopardize years of science on wolves and the elk herds they prey upon.
BUSINESS LOAN LAWSUIT
Montana Supreme Court ducks decision on punitive damages cap
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has overturned a $52 million jury verdict in a breach of contract case, but justices did not rule on the constitutionality of the state's $10 million cap on punitive damages.
The court on Wednesday sent the case back to District Court in Butte for a new trial, saying Masters Group International's lawsuit against Comerica Bank should have been tried under Michigan law, where Comerica was previously headquartered.
The Supreme Court, therefore, did not rule on the question of whether Montana juries should be allowed to award more than $10 million in punitive damages.
The Silver Bow County jury had unanimously decided Comerica was in breach of contract and was liable for $52 million in damages to Masters Group for ultimately thwarting its effort to open an office supply distribution business in Butte. The award included $10.5 million in punitive damages.
FATAL CRASH-ROGERS PASS
Ronan woman, 24, dies in crash north of Helena
(Information in the following story is from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a 24-year-old Ronan woman was killed in a single-vehicle crash north of Helena.
The Independent Record reports Danella Hiday was headed west on Highway 200 near the top of Rogers Pass when her car drifted off the side of the road Thursday afternoon. Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Alicia Williams says Hiday overcorrected, and her car crossed both lanes of traffic before going down a steep embankment.
Williams says Hiday, who was not wearing a seatbelt, might have been speeding at the time of the crash.
Suspect in shooting outside Marion bar pleads not guilty
(Information in the following story is from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com)
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A man accused of shooting two people outside a northwest Montana bar has pleaded not guilty.
The Flathead Beacon reports 27-year-old Leif Lee denied charges Thursday of assault with a weapon and criminal endangerment stemming from the June 14 shooting in Marion.
Investigators say a witness intervened in an altercation between Lee and a woman when Lee pulled a gun. The witness reportedly tried to grab the gun when it went off.
The witness was struck in the hand and arm, and one of the bullets also struck the woman in the arm. The woman, of Bigfork, was hospitalized with serious injuries.
Officials say Lee fled on a motorcycle but called police the next day, acknowledging his involvement.
Butte man gets 6-year deferred sentence for fatal crash
(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A 19-year-old Butte man who caused a crash that killed a passenger on Halloween 2013 has been given a six-year deferred sentence.
The Montana Standard reports Cody Richards was sentenced Thursday for the death of 19-year-old Kiel Podgorski. Richards pleaded guilty in March to negligent homicide.
Defense attorney Greg Jackson said his client had been drinking and was unable to control his vehicle as he tried to negotiate a curve on icy roads. The Montana Highway Patrol found Richards was driving too fast for road conditions when his vehicle went off a county road and down a steep embankment.
Richards and two other men — Wayne Worley, then 30, and Tyler Weddle, then 19 — were treated for injuries and released.
Yellowstone bison gore woman, injure teen in latest run-ins
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Bison gored a woman and tossed a teenager into the air in Yellowstone National Park, the latest run-ins with the massive animals during tourist season in the popular landmark.
The National Park Service says a bison gored a 68-year-old woman Wednesday on a trail near Yellowstone Lake. She was taken to a hospital, but her condition wasn't immediately known.
On June 23, a bison tossed a 19-year-old off-duty park concession employee who was off trail. She was treated and released from a hospital for minor injuries.
In other encounters, the animals have gored a 16-year-old girl and tossed an Australian tourist in the air. Both suffered serious injuries.
Yellowstone prohibits people from getting within 25 yards of bison or other large animals and within 100 yards of bears and wolves.
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