Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
Former school admin. gets probation for thefts
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A former administrator in the Billings school district has been sentenced to six years of probation after pleading guilty to stealing electronics and selling them at pawn shops.
The Billings Gazette reports District Judge Ingrid Gustafson gave Dulce Fate Whitford a six-year deferred sentence for one count of felony theft by common scheme. If she meets the conditions of the sentence, including paying $16,600 in restitution, the felony can be cleared from her record.
Whitford pleaded guilty in May to stealing laptops, tablets and other technology equipment from the district between June 2012 and November 2013. Prosecutors say she used the proceeds to gamble.
Public defender Edward Werner said Whitford was having financial problems partly due to a family illness.
As director of Indian Education for All, Whitford was paid $94,092 annually.
Leader of Bakken drug ring gets 20 years prison
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge has sentenced the leader of an interstate drug ring to 20 years in prison for his role in a trafficking operation that stretched from western Washington to the Bakken oil fields of the Northern Plains.
In a sentencing hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Watters described Robert Farrell Armstrong as a long-time criminal and a danger to society.
In a deal with prosecutors, the Moses Lake, Washington, man pleaded guilty in January to a single count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
Watters said Armstrong preyed upon addicts in the Montana-North Dakota oil patch to build up a network of dealers and armed enforcers.
Authorities say the drug ring moved as much as a pound of meth a week before it was busted up last year.
3rd tourist cited for flying drone in Yellowstone
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — For the third time this summer, Yellowstone National Park rangers have cited a tourist for illegally flying a drone in the park.
Park officials said Friday that Donald Criswell of Molalla, Oregon, flew an unmanned aircraft over Midway Geyser Basin and near bison on Aug. 19.
In early August, rangers charged Theodorus Van Vliet of the Netherlands after his drone allegedly crashed into Grand Prismatic Spring. Andreas Meissner of Germany is accused of flying a drone that crashed into Yellowstone Lake on July 17. He was charged earlier this week.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports Grand Teton National Park has had at least one drone citation.
Rangers say a man crashed a drone into a tree in late June, possibly while trying to get aerial photos of wildlife.
Labor report: Jobs outlook good through 2015
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State officials say Montana ranks in the top five states for employment growth, but it faces slower growth in the future as an aging workforce retires.
The Department of Labor and Industry's Labor Day report released Friday shows that since the start of 2014, about 12,000 jobs have been added in the state. Montana Labor and Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy says that number puts the state on pace for record-breaking employment growth this year.
The report also says the unemployment rate has dropped steadily since 2010. Currently at 4.6 percent, it's the 11th lowest in the nation.
Businesses will need to make investments so workers can increase their productivity, the report says, in order to counteract worker shortages and slower job growth after 2015.
MSU NORTHERN-INTERIM CHANCELLOR
MSU-Northern names interim chancellor
HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — The dean of the College of Technical Sciences at Montana State University-Northern will serve as interim chancellor after the resignation of Chancellor James Limbaugh.
MSU President Waded Cruzado said Friday that Greg Kegel is a natural choice for a leadership position, and will serve in the post for the "foreseeable future."
Kegel began working at Northern in 1982 as a professor of industrial technology and design drafting. He was named a dean in 2001. He has worked to expand Northern's technical programs, including introducing internships with national and international businesses and helped secure more than $5 million to build Northern's Applied Technology Center.
Kegel says he's humbled and honored to be asked to lead Northern.
Limbaugh resigned effective Friday, saying controversy over several issues on campus and in the community had become a distraction.
Albertsons breach involved 3 states
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A data breach that was reported at some Albertsons stores in early August impacted all the company's grocery stores in Washington, Idaho and Montana.
KHQ-TV of Spokane reported Friday that fraud investigators determined that all the company's stores in the three states were vulnerable to the breach.
Albertsons has said the breach involved customers who shopped in its stores between June 22 and July 17 this year.
Investigators say the information stolen includes debit and credit card information. They recommend looking through your credit card or bank statements to note any suspicious purchases.
KHQ says there is no evidence that the stolen information has been used.
State to halt hunt this weekend
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The state Department of Fish and Wildlife will suspend its hunt for three more members of the Huckleberry wolf pack for the Labor Day weekend.
Hunters contracted by the state for the past week have been trying to kill a total of four members of the pack in order to protect a herd of 1,800 sheep the wolves have been preying upon. One wolf was shot and killed by a hunter in a helicopter on Aug. 22.
The state says at least 24 sheep have been killed in eight confirmed wolf attacks on the herd in southern Stevens County since Aug. 14.
Officials for DFW say they have suspended efforts to hunt or trap the wolves in order to avoid conflicts with Labor Day recreationists and grouse hunters.
Billings man charged with raping man in alley
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 32-year-old Billings man is charged with luring another man into a downtown alley and raping him.
The Billings Gazette reports Waylon Jace Iron was arrested Wednesday night and made an initial appearance in Justice Court Thursday on a charge of sexual intercourse without consent. Justice of the Peace Pedro Hernandez set his bail at $50,000.
Iron's public defender's request for a lower bond was denied.
Charging documents allege Iron told the man he was a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer and offered to take him to an apartment for beer. The man told police Iron pulled him into a dumpster enclosure and after he refused Iron's advances, Iron raped him. The man said he was able to get away when Iron passed out.
Iron denied knowing the victim or having any physical contact with him.
Residents sue over non-discrimination ordinance
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Five Bozeman residents are suing the city, the mayor and city commissioners arguing the city did not have the legal authority to enact an ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
The complaint, filed in District Court, asks the court to declare the non-discrimination ordinance invalid. In June, Bozeman became the fourth Montana city to pass a similar ordinance banning discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.
Deputy Mayor Carson Taylor, who is named in the lawsuit, said he doesn't think the decision was illegal.
Both sides say the court's ruling will have implications for similar laws in Missoula, Helena and Butte.
IDAHO CARJACKING SUSPECT
SW Idaho man pleads guilty to attempted kidnapping
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A 37-year-old southwest Idaho man police say carjacked a vehicle in Nampa and briefly escaped custody while being brought back to Idaho from Montana has entered guilty pleas.
Rodney Lee Seiber pleaded guilty Thursday in Fourth District Court to attempted kidnapping and escape.
He was arrested on Sept. 25 in Montana near Garryowen in southeastern Montana.
He briefly escaped when a private security company's transport vehicle in October stopped to let him use the restroom along Interstate 84 southeast of Boise.
He tried to carjack a vehicle by brandishing a knife at the woman inside, but she drove away.
The guilty pleas stemmed from that escape attempt. He's scheduled to be sentenced in October.
Seiber still faces a charge from the reported carjacking in Nampa.
Student missing on way to Montana died in crash
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A California man who went missing while traveling from his summer job in Idaho to the University of Montana died in a car crash northeast of Boise.
Custer County Coroner Vicki Armbruster says 21-year-old Lucius Robbi of Orleans, California, died on Aug. 19 of blunt force trauma that happened when his car went off Highway 21 and down a 60-foot embankment.
A private helicopter hired to join the widespread search for Robbi spotted the tip of a kayak in the trees near the Stanley Lake turnoff on Thursday.
Robbi left Horseshoe Bend on Aug. 19 to travel to Missoula, Montana, to attend classes at UM. He was reported missing when he didn't arrive for orientation on Aug. 20.
The Idaho State Police is investigating the cause of the crash.
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