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Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, July 22nd 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Montana judge to be censured over rape comments

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A Billings judge is appearing before the Montana Supreme Court for a public reprimand over his comments about a 14-year-old rape victim.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh is scheduled to appear before the state's highest court Tuesday afternoon for censure, which is a public declaration that he is guilty of misconduct.

Baugh sent Stacey Dean Rambold to prison for just 30 days last year after he pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.

Baugh said during Rambold's sentencing in August that the teenager was "probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant" and that she "appeared older than her chronological age."

The Supreme Court ordered Baugh to be censured and to be suspended for 31 days.

Baugh has apologized for his comments and is retiring in December.


Guard helicopters, soldiers to help with fires

HELENA, Mont. (AP) The Montana Army National Guard sent 17 soldiers and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters to Washington state to support wildfire fighting operations.

Adjutant General Matthew Quinn says mutual aid agreements between the states allow Montana resources to be used in Washington state.

A state of emergency was declared last Tuesday for 20 Washington counties due to the wildfires, which have now burned 370 square miles and at least 150 homes.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday declared that a state of disaster exists in Washington that is severe enough that Montana support is warranted through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

The twin-engine cargo helicopters are capable of dropping more than 2,000 gallons of water at a time from an attached bucket. Quinn says the CH-47s departed at 8 a.m. Monday.


Supreme Court upholds drug program confidentiality

HELENA, Mont. (AP) The Montana Supreme Court says authorities can't file new criminal charges against a person using confidential information obtained in a drug treatment court program.

The court ruled in a 7-0 opinion written July 15 that using that information violates the U.S. and Montana constitutions' protections against self-incrimination.

The justices reversed a lower judge's conviction of Karlyle Plouffe.

Plouffe entered Mineral County's treatment court program after being charged in 2011 with trespassing and marijuana possession.

That October, a urinalysis administered to Plouffe tested positive for benzodiazepine, and he was charged after admitting to using and selling prescription pills stolen from a friend's grandmother.

The high court says authorities were not allowed to disclose the results of the urinalysis and use it as a basis for investigating a new offense.


Missoula man sentenced for illegal securities sale

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A former state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to selling securities in Montana without a license has been given a six-year deferred sentence and ordered to repay his victims the nearly $336,000 they lost.

District Judge Mike Menahan sentenced William R. Nooney of Missoula last week in Helena. Nooney was charged last September and pleaded guilty in April.

Prosecutors allege clients invested nearly $459,000 in securities that Nooney was not registered to sell and that were not registered with the state.

Nooney was elected to the state Legislature in 2006 and 2008. The securities were sold between February 2008 and April 2009.

Attorney Milt Datsopoulos did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday. However, when the charges were filed, Datsopoulos said they were based on Nooney's failure to meet certain technical requirements and that he did not intend to violate any laws.


Twin Bridges man pleads guilty in fatal crash

(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) A 20-year-old Twin Bridges man involved in a drunken-driving rollover crash that killed a passenger has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of vehicular homicide.

The Montana Standard reports Tanner Wesley Eggers entered his plea in District Court on Monday for the Sept. 8 crash near Twin Bridges that killed 19-year-old Michael Pfertsh. Investigators say Pfertsh was riding in the back of Eggers' pickup truck at 3 a.m. when Eggers failed to negotiate a curve.

The Montana Highway Patrol says the truck went off the road and came to rest on its side. Pfertsh was pinned under the truck and died.

Eggers also pleaded guilty to three counts of negligent endangerment for each of the injured passengers.


Mother arrested, baby tested positive for meth

(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) A woman who fled a Montana hospital after she and her newborn tested positive for methamphetamine has been arrested in Utah. Her baby is safe.

Anaconda Police Chief Tim Barkell tells The Montana Standard that the monthlong search for 29-year-old Michelle Renee Yallup and her infant son ended Monday with her arrest at a truck stop in Willard, Utah, about 50 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Yallup faces a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

The Butte woman gave birth at Community Hospital in Anaconda on June 17. State officials say she told hospital staff she wanted to leave. Staffers said she could leave, but not with the baby. Yallup was walking in a hospital hallway with the baby when she left and got into a waiting vehicle.


2 suspects in Montana shooting arrested in Seattle

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A man and a woman suspected in a shooting on Interstate 90 in western Montana have been arrested in a Seattle motel.

The Missoula County Attorney's Office said Monday that 30-year-old Troy Anthony Miller and 34-year-old Katherine Grace Evans were arrested on warrants for attempted deliberate homicide and robbery.

Miller and Evans were arrested by the Pacific Northwest Fugitive Task Force. Missoula detectives are heading to Seattle to interview them.

Police say a man was shot during a robbery along the highway near Turah on Wednesday night. The man survived, but his name and condition have not been released.

Passing motorists contacted police after seeing the wounded man on the side of the highway.


Billings man pleads guilty in shooting death

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A 36-year-old Billings man has pleaded guilty to shooting another man to death during a confrontation over a pit bull puppy and a gun the defendant believed the victim had stolen.

The Billings Gazette reports Mahpevana-Hane (mah-puh-VON'-uh-Hayne) "Lorne" Bearcomesout pleaded guilty Monday to deliberate homicide for the Oct. 20 shooting of 32-year-old Misael (mee-sah-EL') Santiago.

Bearcomesout told investigators he went to Santiago's residence to confront him about the missing items. Witnesses say Santiago went outside to talk with the Bearcomesout.

Bearcomesout told officers he shot Santiago because he thought he was reaching for a weapon, but he acknowledged he did not see any weapons.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh ordered Bearcomesout to remain jailed on $500,000 bond until he is sentenced in early October.


Findings in fatal highway crash being reviewed

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Investigators believe they know what caused a highway crash that killed six people last month, but their findings are under review before they can be released.

The Montana Highway Patrol investigation has lasted for weeks as authorities attempted to piece together what happened in the June 19 collision between a fire engine and a pickup truck.

The crash and fire on U.S. Highway 12 outside Helena killed Three Forks Fire Chief Todd Rummel and a couple and their three young children. There were no survivors.

Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes said Monday investigators have forwarded their findings to a team of crash re-constructionists, who will review them for thoroughness and accuracy.

Details of the findings were not released.


Search continues for kayaker missing at Flathead

POLSON, Mont. (AP) Officials in Lake County continued searching Monday for a Polson man reported missing after he failed to return from a weekend kayaking trip on Flathead Lake.

The missing man was identified as 43-year-old Robert W. McDonald, a physician at St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson.

Officials say he left from the Bear Harbor condominiums around noon Saturday. He was not wearing a life jacket.

Lake County sheriff's spokeswoman Karen Sargeant tells KERR-AM that the search for McDonald moved into recovery mode on Monday. She says both Lake and Flathead counties are using boats with side-scan sonar to search Polson Bay based on a citizen tip.

McDonald was reported missing at 11:15 p.m. Saturday. Crews searched until 3:30 a.m. Sunday and searched again for several hours during the day on Sunday.

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

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Monday, July 21st 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Search conducted for kayaker on Flathead Lake

POLSON, Mont. (AP) Lake County authorities are searching for a kayaker on Flathead Lake.

The county's dispatchers received a report about 11:15 p.m. Saturday of a male kayaker who had not come back to shore at Polson Bay.

Search and rescue boats, aided by two helicopters, searched the lake until about 3:30 a.m. Sunday and then resumed the search after sunrise.

The name of the missing man has not been released.


Supreme Court upholds deputy's disability denial

HELENA, Mont. (AP) The Montana Supreme Court is upholding a lower court ruling that denied disability benefits to a former Glacier County undersheriff.

Jeff Fauque had argued post-traumatic stress disorder caused by years of investigating deaths led to drug abuse that cost him his job.

Fauque was charged in October 2010 with entering a house to steal prescription narcotics. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, surrendered his law enforcement certifications and went to inpatient addiction treatment.

He later applied for disability benefits under the Sheriff's Retirement System.

The Montana Public Employees Retirement Board twice denied his claim for disability benefits, disputing Fauque's claim that his PTSD was permanently disabling. A hearing examiner upheld the denial in November 2012. Last September, District Judge Mike Menahan of Helena rejected Fauque's appeal.


Decision near on bomber training area expansion

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Air Force officials are expected to decide as soon as next month whether to go forward with an expansion of a bomber training area over the Northern Plains that would encompass an area larger than West Virginia.

The Powder River Training Complex over portions of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas would be used by B-1 and B-52 bombers.

Air Force officials say the expansion of the training airspace to about 28,000 square miles is needed to maintain readiness. It also would save $23 million a year by reducing the number of sorties sent to Utah and Nevada for combat exercises.

Some members of Congress, pilots and others have resisted what one Montana official called a federal government "airspace grab." They want the proposal scaled back to ease effects on private and commercial flights.


Girl sent to hospital after incident on fair ride

(Information in the following story is from: KTVM-TV, http://www.ktvm.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) An incident on a bungee jump ride at the Gallatin County Fair in Bozeman has sent a girl to the hospital.

KTVN-TV reports that the incident occurred Friday and that witnesses say the girl fell to the ground hard when it appeared a bungee snapped.

It reports that family members say the girl broke her pelvic bone.

The ride features bungee cords that hold up riders in a swing. The ride hoists riders into the air so they can bounce higher.

Gallatin County Fairgrounds manager Sue Shockley says they have closely drawn contracts with the fair attractions, which include having proper insurance and liability for accidents.


UM sets fundraising record with $53.7 million

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) The University of Montana received a record $53.7 million in private donations in fiscal year 2014.

That is $16.3 million more than the previous record set in 2008.

The university reports nearly 13,600 individuals, businesses and foundations made gifts in fiscal year 2014. That is up from 12,775 donors in fiscal year 2013.

UM President Royce Engstrom says he's proud of the work by the UM Foundation, faculty, staff and students, and he deeply appreciates the dedication of donors.

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

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Sunday, July 20th 2014 

Arson fire forces evacuation of Montana group home

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) A small fire forced residents of a Great Falls group home for mentally disabled adults to spend a night in a hotel.

Great Falls Battalion Chief Bob Shupe says there were no injuries from the fire Friday night at the Little Belts Group Home.

He says staff members put the fire out with an extinguisher. The home's residents spend a night in a hotel so the home could be cleaned up.

Shupe says damage at the group home was limited to some curtains and an adjacent wall area. He estimated the total cost of the damage to be less than $800.

Shupe tells the Great Falls Tribune that the fire was reportedly set by one of the home's residents.


Georgia man who drowned in Montana identified

COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) Authorities have released the name of an 81-year-old Georgia man who drowned after being thrown from a raft into the Stillwater River in south-central Montana.

The Stillwater County Sheriff's Office says Charles McJunkin, of Atlanta, died in the incident Thursday afternoon.

It says McJunkin had been fishing with at least two other people when he and a woman were thrown into the water.

The woman was able to swim to safety but McJunkin was swept downstream. His body was found about mile downstream.


2 sought in shooting along highway in west Montana

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) Two people are being sought in the shooting of a man on Interstate 90 in western Montana.

Police say a man was shot during a robbery along the highway near Turah on Wednesday night. The man survived, but his name and condition have not been released.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Department issued arrest warrants for 30-year-old Troy Miller, of Washington state, and 34-year-old Katherine Grace Evans, whose home state wasn't immediately clear.

Police say Miller is believed to be armed and dangerous, and is described as 6 feet 4 inches tall and 200 pounds with light brown hair.

Evans is 5-foot-5 and weighs about 130 pounds. Her hair is brown but has been blonde in the past.

The suspects may be traveling in a white two-door pickup.


NPS trumpets economic benefits of national parks

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) A new study says national parks and monuments boosted the economies of surrounding communities in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho by a combined $1.15 billion last year.

Wyoming saw $723.3 million in spending by visitors to parks and monuments run by the National Park Service; Montana, $397.3 million; and Idaho, $29.4 million.

Nationwide, the total economic benefits to communities within 60 miles of a national park was $14.6 billion.

Wyoming, Idaho and Montana share parts of Yellowstone National Park, where visitors spent almost $382 million in nearby communities.

Visitors to Grand Teton National Park and the adjoining John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway spent more than $502 million in northwest Wyoming and eastern Idaho communities.

More than 2 million visited Glacier National Park in Montana, spending more than $178 million.


2 air tankers in Wyoming to help with wildfires

BOISE, Idaho (AP) Authorities are bringing in two military air tankers from Wyoming to help fight wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.

Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, say the tankers were activated to ensure that firefighters had adequate air tanker capability in the region.

Wildfires in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California and elsewhere in the West are taxing the current number of firefighting aircraft.

The tankers come from the Wyoming Air National Guard in Cheyenne. They will initially be based in Boise and are expected to be available to fly wildfire suppression missions beginning Sunday.

The two C-130 planes are equipped with special equipment that dumps up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant from the air.

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