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Associated Press Montana News Summary
Thursday, October 8th 2015 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Short supply of drugs allowed for use in Montana executions

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A judge's ruling limits Montana to using one of three drugs in its lethal injections, but none of three is readily available for purchase.

That means the state may be unable to execute either of its two death-row inmates unless the Legislature changes the law or the Montana Supreme Court overturns District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock's decision.

State law requires lethal injections to be administered by an "ultra-fast acting barbiturate" and a chemical paralytic agent. Sherlock determined Tuesday only three barbiturates are ultra-fast acting.

One is thiopental (thi-oh-PENT'-ahl), which is no longer manufactured in the U.S. European manufacturers are banned from exporting the drug for executions.

The second is thiamylal (thy-AM'-il-ahl), which is no longer made in the U.S.

The third is methohexital (meth-oh-HEX'-it-al). The drug's U.S. manufacturer refuses to sell it to state corrections officials.


Great Falls man found guilty in deputy's death

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A Yellowstone County jury found a Great Falls man guilty of killing a Cascade County sheriff's deputy by hitting him with a car during a high-speed pursuit near Belt.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours Wednesday before finding Adam Sanchez Jr. guilty of deliberate homicide in the August 2014 death of Deputy Joe Dunn as he put down stop sticks. Jurors also found Sanchez guilty of assault with a weapon, two counts of criminal endangerment and assaulting a police officer.

Defense attorney Tom Bartleson had argued there was no evidence that his client hit Dunn for any reason other than to maneuver around vehicles.

Sanchez is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for criminal endangerment for an earlier chase. Prosecutors plan to seek a life sentence for Dunn's death.


Attorney pleads guilty to wire fraud, identity theft

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

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) A former Anaconda attorney accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from clients and a state chapter of a national association has pleaded guilty.

The Montana Standard reports that David Michael McLean pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a plea deal on Aug. 17.

On Sept. 25, a Chief District judge decided to defer acceptance of the plea agreement until sentencing on Dec. 3.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

McLean's fraud was discovered in July 2014. He and his son Michael McLean reported the misappropriation of funds to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel. David McLean was subsequently disbarred by the Montana Supreme Court.


Medical board plans to revoke license of addiction doctor

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

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) The medical director of the state's chemical dependency treatment center is on paid administrative leave and faces indefinite suspension of his medical license over concerns that he may have been using some type of intoxicant.

Dr. Mark Catalanello was being monitored by the Montana Professional Assistance Program and his medical license was suspended in April 2004 for using alcohol. The state Board of Medical Examiners reinstated his license in 2007, the same year he began working at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. His part-time duties at the Montana Chemical Dependency Center in Butte began in December 2012.

The Montana Standard reports MPAP started receiving reports in August from people concerned that Catalanello may have relapsed. He refused to undergo toxicology screening, violating his agreement with MPAP. His license was suspended on Friday.


Former teacher gets 10 years in prison in porn case

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A former Livingston and Billings West teacher and coach has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for using aliases on social networking sites to get underage girls to send sexually explicit pictures of themselves to his cellphone.

The Billings Gazette reports U.S. District Judge Susan Watters agreed Wednesday with a defense recommendation that Scott James Nichols be sentenced to 10 years in prison, about half the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. Nichols pleaded guilty to two counts of coercion and enticement, two counts of attempted coercion and one count of child pornography distribution.

Watters also ordered 15 years of supervised release and required Nichols to register as a sex offender.

Investigators say they found hundreds of videos and images of child pornography on computers in Nichols' office at West High.


Missing Missoula woman found safe

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A 64-year-old Missoula woman who was the subject of a state missing and endangered person alert has been found safe.

Susan Innala Stevens, who has dementia, was last seen on Tuesday afternoon. Police say she was found walking around Missoula on Wednesday morning.

Police spokesman Travis Welsh says someone was looking out the window and spotted her. He says she appeared OK, but was going to get a medical checkup to make sure.


Woman arrested in Montana while wanted in Oklahoma

(Information in the following story is from: Ravalli Republic, http://www.ravallirepublic.com)

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) A woman has been arrested for embezzlement in Montana while living under an alias to escape a fugitive warrant from Oklahoma.

The Ravalli Republic reports that 45-year-old Terri Renee Gordineer lived and worked in Montana's Ravalli County under the assumed name Lisa Denise Tracy for three years.

She was recently charged with embezzling nearly $20,000 from her employer, Barnings Chiropractic, during that time. Ravalli County has also charged her with two counts of felony drug possession.

In the separate Oklahoma case, Gordineer faces felony charges including grand larceny and methamphetamine possession.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Wednesday, October 7th 2015 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Yellowstone sets record with 3.8 million visits this year

Yellowstone National Park has set a visitation record this year with more than 3.8 million visits at the end of September, and is on track to top 4 million visits by the year's end.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1JRfmKe) that according to park statistics, the number of recreational visits this year has surpassed a 2010 record of more than 3.6 million by nearly 5 percent.

Visitation has been following an upward trend all year, as each month topped its 2014 total. This year's numbers have already outpaced 2014's end of year visitation count by 300,000.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Amy Bartlett says the increase in visitors can be attributed to the "Find Your Park" campaign, lower gas prices and the upcoming National Parks Service centennial, which takes place next year.


Judge blocks Montana from using drug in executions

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A Helena judge has blocked Montana from using a particular drug in executions, saying it does not meet the standard set by state lawmakers.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled Tuesday that the drug pentobarbital is not an "ultra-fast acting barbiturate" as required by state law for lethal injections.

Sherlock says in his decision that medical evidence shows only three barbiturates can be classified as "ultra-fast acting," and pentobarbital is not one of them.

Montana's lethal injection law calls for use of an ultra-fast acting barbiturate and a paralytic agent. The state's execution protocol lists sodium pentothal as the barbiturate, with pentobarbital as a substitute.

Sodium pentothal is no longer available for use in executions in the U.S.

Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes says state attorneys are reviewing Sherlock's decision.


After coal plant outage, utility challenged over charges

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Attorneys for Montana consumers and two environmental groups say NorthWestern Energy wrongly charged customers at least $8.5 million after a 2013 power plant outage forced it to buy electricity on the open market.

The state Public Service Commission on Tuesday launched a hearing into the rate dispute that is expected to continue for several days.

The case centers on costs incurred by NorthWestern after the Colstrip coal plant in southeastern Montana was partially idled for more than six months for repairs beginning in July 2013.

Attorneys for the South Dakota-based utility say it was following state regulations by passing along electricity replacement costs to 350,000 Montana customers.

Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine counters the company should have known about potential problems at Colstrip and should bear the costs for the shutdown.


Bullock reports $776K saved for re-election campaign

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Gov. Steve Bullock has more than $776,000 to spend on his re-election campaign.

Documents filed with the commissioner on political practices shows the Democratic incumbent raised $286,261 and spent more than $105,000 over the three-month reporting period that ended Sept. 30.

That leaves him with $776,525 in the bank as the focus begins to shift toward the 2016 governor's race.

His possible Republican opponent, Bozeman entrepreneur Greg Grianforte, has raised more than $255,000 since forming an exploratory committee in August.

Gianforte has spent more than $71,644, leaving him with $183,705 in the bank as he decides whether to declare his candidacy.

The other major Republican to announce a run, Public Service Commission chairman Brad Johnson, reported raising no money in the period.


Trial underway for man charged with breaking clean water law

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A trial is underway against a miner near Basin who is charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Prosecutors say Joseph Robertson dug ponds in 2013 and 2014 that discharged dredged and fill material into wetlands and a tributary of Cataract Creek in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Robertson lives on the adjacent White Pine Lode patented mining claim. Cataract Creek flows into the Boulder River.

He is charged with unauthorized discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters and malicious mischief for injuring the property of the United States.

Roberston's attorney says the ponds were to protect his property from fire.

Robertson argues he received permission from a state wildlife official and the ponds don't fall under the federal law's jurisdiction.

A jury trial began Monday in Helena and is scheduled to last five days.


Man dies after train hits vehicle west of Bozeman

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) Authorities say a 70-year-old man has died after a train struck his vehicle at a railroad crossing west of Bozeman.

Montana Highway Patrol officials said the man's vehicle was hit at the private crossing Monday afternoon. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the victim was extracted from the SUV and taken to a nearby hospital, where he died that night.

The Gallatin County coroner's office identified the man Tuesday as Michael Paul Hockel of Bozeman.

County officials said in a statement the crash is under investigation.


Cattle-killing bear shot by wildlife officials

COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) Wildlife officials have shot a grizzly bear that killed 12 cows in Stillwater County.

Shawn Stewart of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks tells the Stillwater County News (http://bit.ly/1Z8gwwg ) that U.S. Wildlife Services officials killed the bear Thursday along East Fiddler Creek.

The bear was responsible for a dozen cattle deaths in the Fishtail and Fiddler Creek area since Aug. 14.

Stewart says the sow eluded wildlife officials for weeks. The bear did not return to any of the kill sites and seemed to sense where traps had been set.

The bear had been fitted with a radio collar after previously being trapped east of Red Lodge in July. It was released along the Gallatin River only to be trapped and released again by researchers in the Gardiner area.

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