Written by John Plestina
A level 3 sex offender from Wyoming is facing incarceration following an adjudication hearing in 15th District Court Wednesday, Aug. 13.
William B. Debbs, 43, of Casper, Wyo., was jailed earlier this year on several probation violations including failing to register as a sex offender and violent offender.
Debbs is listed on the National Sex Offender Registry as a level 3 sex offender and a “sexually violent predator.”
Debbs, who previously denied all allegations of probation violations, conceded to the violations., including moving to eastern Roosevelt County without notification and failing to register as a sex offender and violent offender, and consuming alcohol and marijuana. He was arrested at a bus station.
Probation officer Roland Smathers testified from Butte via teleconference with recommendations that a previous Montana sentence that Debbs was on probation for be revoked in its entirety and that Debbs be sentenced to 7½ years with five years suspended.
Judge David Cybulski found Debbs in violation.
Debbs has been in Montana State Prison and in the Montana State Hospital. The Department of Health and Human Services had released him to the Department of Corrections.
Debbs told the court he was violently assaulted twice in Montana State Prison and he feared for his life if he were sent back there.
Cybulski said he would try to refer Debbs to the state hospital but he might end up back in prison.
He was convicted in Wyoming of first-degree sexual assault and indecent liberties with a minor. The female victim was seven years old at the time of the assault, according to the registry.
The registry also lists Debbs with a Butte address.
Written by Nancy Mahan
The Culbertson School board met in regular session on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Some items on the agenda were the bus barn heating options, snow flex days for the school year 2014-15, leave without pay, guest teacher applications and hiring more custodial staff.
It was decided not to increase the prices for breakfast and lunch.
Jeff Carda obtained the meter for Armstrong School, which was paid for by Culbertson. The north gym addition brick is up with the exception of the awning entrance.
Classrooms have been sheet rocked, textured and painted. Ceilings, lights and windows will be next.
The elementary wing has begun with stemwall and footings to be completed by the end of August.
The bus barn steel has been ordered. It will take several weeks for the steel to be delivered. Permits for construction of the barn are in the works.
In other business, the board:
● approved putting a ground source heating system in the bus barn;
● approved adding three additional days to the school calendar as “flex” days;
● discussed leave without pay and tabled the matter until next summer;
● approved membership in the Montana Quality Education Coalition;
● approved guest teacher applications for Alvina Olstead and Halvar Olstead;
● approved a Nemont request for an easement;
● approved hiring Steve Steege and Dani Green as custodians;
● approved hiring Tifney Kempton as the junior high/high school Title I aide;
● approved hiring Jeri Gustafson as speech and drama head coach, Tara Adams as high school golf coach and Dave Solem as high school track head coach;
● approved the coal delivery contract for James Obergfell;
● approved the budgets for the 2014-2015 school year;
● discussed goals for 2014-2015 and tabled the matter until the September board meeting;
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 6:30 p.m.
Written by John Plestina
A Michigan couple, accused of attempting to obtain narcotics by deception, entered not guilty pleas in 15th District Court Wednesday, Aug. 13.
Jesse Gottschalk and Shelby Rider, both 22, and both of Algonac, Mich., are alleged to have attempted to obtain drugs from Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson by making false claims.
Both are charged with felony possession of dangerous drugs, attempting to fraudulently obtain dangerous drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Both are scheduled for trials Nov. 13.
Defense attorneys Mark Epperson, representing Rider, and Mary Louise Zemyan, resenting Gottschalk, requested bail reductions from $50,000 to $10,000. Assistant county attorney Jordan Knudsen opposed the reductions. Judge David Cybulski reduced bond to $20,000 for each. They also must waive extradition if freed on bond.
Epperson said Rider’s father recently bought a home in North Dakota and that she could live with him while awaiting trial.
According to information provided by the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Rider’s father is alleged to have provided and sold illegal prescription drugs to his daughter and Gottschalk.
The RCSO reported Monday, Aug. 18, that Rider was free on bond.
The RCSO provided The Herald-News with a written report by Deputy Patrick O’Connor, the arresting officer.
An RMC staff member had reported suspicious behavior by Gottschalk and Rider and requested law enforcement on June 25 at about 5:30 p.m.
O’Connor wrote that a hospital employee told him Rider was claiming abdominal pain and wanted to be prescribed Percocet, the brand name for a pain medication containing oxycodone, which is classified as a schedule II dangerous drug.
“When Rider was told she needed to provide a urine sample, she covertly gave the specimen cup to Gottschalk, who took it into the bathroom and filled it with his own urine,” O’Connor wrote.
A hospital staff member observed Gottschalk with the specimen cup and took it from him.
O’Connor stated in his narrative that Gottschalk attempted to leave the hospital when he saw the deputy approaching him. O’Connor handcuffed Gott-schalk outside the emergency room entrance and informed him of his rights.
“Gottschalk admitted to urinating in Rider’s specimen cup and told me he did so because Rider was unable to provide a sample herself for some reason,” O’Connor wrote.
Rider was arrested shortly after on the hospital grounds.
O’Connor further wrote in his report that an RN told him the pair were behaving suspiciously “and he felt Rider was attempting to fraudulently obtain Percocet and Phenergan” [the brand name for promethazine, a non-controlled drug used to treat anxiety]. The nurse told O’Connor that Rider had complained of abdominal pain and specifically requested those drugs.
The sheriff’s report further alleges that that Rider attempted to obtain the same medications from a hospital in Crosby, N.D., a few weeks prior, also claiming abdominal pain. At that time she checked in using the name Melissa Gottschalk.
“When I asked Rider about the visit to the Crosby hospital, she admitted providing them with a false name and said she did so to avoid paying the hospital bill,” O’Connor wrote.
Rider gave O’Connor permission to look inside her purse, which was inside Gottschalk’s pickup.
“I discovered a pink plastic pen tube with white powdery residue on the inside. The residue was field tested later and indicated positive as oxycodone, the active ingredient in Percocet. Rider told me she used the pen to snort a crushed-up Percocet,” O’Connor wrote in his report.
Rider told O’Connor she has an addiction to Percocet and frequently abuses other prescription drugs, including Xanax.
“Rider said she’s been abusing prescription pills since her father began providing them to her when she was about 17 years old,” O’Connor wrote.
Gottschalk gave O’Connor permission to retrieve pills, which were wrapped in a cellophane wrapper from a cigarette pack, from the driver’s door pocket in his truck.
Later, at the sheriff’s office in Wolf Point, Gottschalk admitted to an addiction to Xanax and said he bought 10 Xanax pills from Rider’s father on June 24, according to the sheriff’s narrative.
The narrative also stated that Rider acknowledged that her father sold the pills to Gottschalk.
Written by Culbertson Searchlight
It is time once again for the annual Fort Kipp Celebration, a pow-wow that is a celebration of native culture and traditions through dancing, food, crafts and fellowship.
The Fort Kipp Celebration starts Friday, Aug. 22, with grand entry at 7 p.m. Grand entries will be at 1 and 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-24. Thursday, Aug. 21 is camping day and a youth pow wow will be held.
The celebration is a long-standing tradition on the Fort Peck Reservation.
Dance categories will be: adult; teen, ages 13-17; junior, ages 7-12; and tiny tot.
Daily specials are planned.
There will be a one-mile walk/run on Saturday, Aug. 23. Registration will be from 7:30-8 a.m. The walk/run begins at 8 a.m.
The public is welcome at the celebration.
Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Elected officials are entrusted with representing the voters and doing what is in the best interest of county taxpayers. This includes the best use of discretionary funds to benefit all county residents/taxpayers. Resolution 2015-4 used Oil Severance Tax money to raise almost all county employees by $300 per month/$1.73 per hour/$3,600 per year or totally about $360,000 county-wide. This resolution specifically states this stipend is for help with temporary housing during peak oil production in the County. Only county employees get this monetary benefit. I find it very hard to believe that all county employees are having difficulty finding housing, but I wouldn’t turn down a salary increase if I was handed one either.
What about the rest of the taxpayers in Roosevelt County? Are they not in the same situation as county employees? Shouldn’t this money benefit all taxpayers in the county, not just a privileged few?
The compensation board is being convened to consider giving this stipend to elected officials. How can any one of the elected officials justify needing more money for housing assistance? The salaries they are receiving seem adequate. They range from $109,272.40 year/$52.53 hr. to $61,218.80 year/ $29.43 hr. This includes the $9,718.80 they receive yearly for health insurance. In addition to this, they get an additional 8.17 percent of their gross salary paid into each of their retirement funds.
Why can’t the rest of the county taxpayers get some assistance with this “extra” money? I have talked to business owners and they have the same problem recruiting and retaining employees but they can’t just give everyone a raise. They have no pot of gold. Maybe a tax rebate to taxpayers might be a better solution so everyone can get a piece of the pie.
This Oil Severance Tax money should be used to reduce taxes or fix infrastructure that need addressing. I have tried for the last five years to get one mile of road adequately repaired, it has never happened. No money, no people, no equipment, no materials! I was told years ago that there was going to be a fund set up to address the repairs, but this has never happened.
The taxpayers have been asked to increase taxes to provide more sheriff’s deputies. Now the commissioners want more money to fund a new jail. Also, there is concern that the tax base may be lowered because of the Cobell buyback program. Would it not be a better use of this money to save it for upcoming expenses or fixing current needs rather than giving the privileged few a raise?
Bill Juve, Taxpayer
(Editor’s Note: The above letter was presented at the compensation board meeting to the board members and reprinted here by request of Bill Juve.)