- Written by John Plestina
Brian Scott “Kodiak” Dahl
A high-profile federal drug case has finally come to an end, more than two years after an alleged gang member who had been savagely beaten, strangled and cut with razor blades was found sopping wet in his own blood in a field adjacent to a Culbertson home more than two years ago.
Tim Purdon, United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota, announced Monday, Nov. 3, that Brian Scott “Kodiak” Dahl, 51, of Williston was the seventh and final member of the “The Family,” a large-scale Williston, N.D. methamphetamine distribution organization, to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, N.D.
Dahl was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a firearm while committing a drug-trafficking crime. He had pleaded guilty.
Dahl, who was arrested in January 2013, had transported meth from Washington, according to federal court documents.
Co-defendant Jeffrey Jim “Pops” Butler, 47, of Williston pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison in October, 2013.
The other five men who pleaded guilty to charges related to the case and sentenced in 2013 were: Nicholas James Gordon Woodford, 24, 15 years; Tyler Michael White, 24, 13 years, 9 months; James Dean Odeneal, 24, 12 years; Zachary Russell Mills, 24, five years; and Matthew Powers, 23, five years.
All seven men had lived in the Williston area less than two years. All were reported to have been staying in several campers parked behind a house in Williston. They were alleged to have had a substantial amount of weapons in their possession. Dahl was arrested with nine rifles, six pistols, four shotguns and three revolvers.
Montana, North Dakota and federal law enforcement first became aware of “The Family” and allegations of large-scale drug trafficking after a resident of Roosevelt County Road 1017 just east of Culbertson saw a severely injured man stagger into a field adjacent to the reporting party’s house on Aug. 12, 2012, and made a 911 call for help. Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tim Lingle and deputy Joe Moore were dispatched at 6:02 a.m.
The RCSO identified the injured man as Robert Osterhout, then 44, of Oswego, N.Y. Several media sources also have identified Osterhout.
He was transported by ambulance to Roosevelt Medical Center in Cul-
bertson and later to Mercy Medical Center in Williston, N.D. Osterhout was reported to have been suffering from multiple broken bones and other injuries.
Federal charging documents for now convicted members of “The Family” alleged that Osterhout was abducted, severely beaten with brass knuckles, strangled with a rope or string, shocked with a stun gun and cut with razor blades inside a camper in Williston, after members of “The Family” attempted to kill him, believing he would tell authorities about their illicit activities. According to charging documents, the men bound Osterhout, put him in a plastic-lined car trunk and drove him across the state line into Roosevelt County. Osterhout attempted to escape, was beaten again and left for dead in a rural area near Culbertson, according to federal court documents.
Osterhout survived and later told his story to the FBI while hospitalized in Williston.
There is no record of any charges against Osterhout.
Roosevelt County Undersheriff John Summers said Osterhout had walked covered in blood from where he had been dumped to the field beside the reporting party’s home with both eyes swollen shut, blood frozen on the back of his head and shaking uncontrollably due to cold temperatures. Osterhout was wearing only sweatpants and socks, Summers said.
“Deputies found drag marks on the county road with shoe prints visible, and a cell phone and a pop bottle. It appeared that a struggle had taken place near where the victim was found,” Summers said.
“The victim would not answer questions about what had happened when initially questioned by deputies,” he said.
Summers said he and Lingle returned to the scene four days later after residents of the area reported finding evidence in a nearby field.
He said they collected a black baseball cap, syringe-type needle, lighter, two pieces of rope, three pieces of plastic tape and a knife. Summers said they observed what appeared to be a spot of blood on the ground. Summers and Lingle photographed the crime scene. The RCSO later turned the collected items over to over to North Dakota law enforcement who were investigating the case as a possible kidnapping.
- Written by John Plestina
Roosevelt County voters approved a new jail, Jason Frederick as sheriff, Allen Bowker as a county commissioner and reelected Austin Knudsen as a state representative Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Steve Daines was elected to the U.S. Senate and Ryan Zinke to U.S. House of Representatives as part of the nationwide wave by Republican candidates, winning control of the Senate and adding to the number of GOP held House seats.
Roosevelt County Clerk and Recorder Cheryl Hansen reported that 2,728 ballots were cast countywide, with 5,738 registered voters, for a 47.58 percent turnout.
New Jail Approved
The new jail and improved office space are now on tap for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s office with voter approval of the jail bond.
The jail bond was approved 1,502-1,149 with a 47.58 percent turnout at the polls. Nearly 57 percent of ballots cast were affirmative for the new jail.
A previous attempt to gain voter approval for a jail bonding measure failed at the polls in June due to a voter turnout that was too low to meet the legal state requirement. That bonding issue received 57.93 percent [986-716] of the votes cast. The voter turnout was 34.88 percent.
The approval authorizes the county commissioners to issue and sell $11.86 million in general obligation bonds to be repaid within 20 years.
The projected mill levy increase would add $42.68 annually to the taxes on a residence assessed at $100,000.
Legal action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2013 forced Roosevelt County to reduce the number of jail beds by nearly one half and the threat of further legal action against the county has loomed over the aging jail that does not meet current standards.
Interim sheriff Jason Frederick defeated recently resigned sheriff Freedom Crawford 2,433-223.
County Commission Dist. 1
Allen Bowker defeated Frank Smith 645-368 for the Roosevelt County Commission District 1 seat that is currently held by Jim Shanks, who did not seek another term.
Republican Austin Knudsen of Culbertson was reelected to state House District 34, defeating Gene Hartsock of Glasgow 3,276 to 1,022.
In State Senate District 19, Republican Frederick Davis Moore defeated Democrat Bill McChesney 5,216 to 2,438.
In State House District 31, Democrat Bridget Smith was reelected unopposed with 1,797 votes.
In State House District 37, Republican Lee Randall defeated Democrat Dixie Rieger 3,622 to 902.
Republican Steve Daines received 57.89 percent of the statewide vote, defeating Democrat Amanda Curtis 211,331 to 145,902 for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by John Walsh. Libertarian Roger Roots received 7,721 votes. In Roosevelt County, Daines defeated Curtis 1,331 to 1,255. Roots had 56 votes.
Republican Ryan Zinke received 55.47 percent of votes cast, defeating Democrat John Lewis 201,436 to 146,474 for the at-large U.S. House of Representatives seat currently held by Steve Daines. Libertarian Mike Fellows received 15,105 votes. In Roosevelt County: Zinke, 1,256; Lewis, 1,251; Fellows, 116.
Montana Supreme Court Justice 1: Jim Rice over W. David Herbert 234,221 to 64,462. Rice won 1,761-422 in Roosevelt County.
Montana Supreme Court Justice 2: Mike Wheat over Lawrence VanDyke 192,811 to 133,351. Wheat won in Roosevelt County 1,402 to 922.
State Ballot Questions
Legislative Referendum No. 126, which would have ended Election Day voter registrations, failed 203,024 to 153,986. LR 126 lost 1,448 to 1,149 in Roo-sevelt County.
Constitutional Amendment No. 45, which would have changed the name of the state auditor to commissioner of securities and insurance failed 175,365 to 164,547. Roosevelt County voters voted down the measure 1,381 to 1,092.
For Public Service Commissioner District 1, Republican Travis Kavulla was elected unopposed with 48,967 votes. He received 1,882 votes in Roosevelt County.
- Written by Richard Peterson
Nellie Silk of Wolf Point, a fluent Dakota speaker, talks about a painting of her late grandfather, Chief Follows The Road, in the documentary film Cante Etanhan Iapi [Language of the Heart]. The 36-minute film is about the preservation and revitalization effort by the Fort Peck Tribes to save their Dakota and Nakoda languages. (Photo by Rich Peterson)
Leroy Comes Last of Poplar works with a horse in the documentary film Cante Etanhan Iapi [Language of the Heart], produced by the Fort Peck Tribes about the effort to save the Nakoda and Dakota tribal languages on the reservation. (Photo by Rich Peterson)
The Fort Peck Tribes Language and Culture Department will premiere its documentary video, Cante Etanhan Iapi [Language of the Heart], on Thursday, Nov. 13.
Faced with a dwindling number of Dakota [Sioux] and Nakoda [Assiniboine] language speakers, the department hopes the 36-minute film will inspire its 13,000 tribal members to learn and preserve the languages.
Currently, there are only 25 Nakoda and 35 Dakota speakers remaining on the reservation.
The video highlights efforts being made to revitalize the languages among Fort Peck youth. A camera follows the summer immersion program as they learn about their culture and history by traveling to the tribes’ buffalo ranch, Little Bighorn Battlefield, gathering traditional foods and summer pow-wows. Included are interviews with some of the remaining language speakers.
“Cante Etanhan Iapi sheds important light on our language and culture with the elders and youth. The elders are waiting to hear and help the youth with our language and culture. The youth are going to carry the message and our language and culture’s future from the elders,” said Ramey Growing Thunder, the director of the Fort Peck Tribes’ Language and Culture Department.
“All this happens because our ancestors are with us wherever we go and whatever we do. They are the ones making the connections. And it is Creator that’s at work for all of us. How beautiful it is,” Growing Thunder said.
The video for the premiere will be held Thursday, Nov. 13, at 6 p.m., in the historic Poplar Theater.
The video was funded by the Fort Peck Tribes and the Montana Indian Language Preservation Pilot Program. The program developed from Senate Bill 342, passed in the 2013 Legislative Session and sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, to help preserve and teach Montana’s native languages on the state’s seven Indian reservations.
- Written by John Plestina
Several semis loaded with a total of 139 wild bison will arrive at the cultural range unit on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Thursday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m.
The bison are certified to be genetically pure and disease-free. These bison will add to the tribe’s existing herd, started with a previous relocation in 2012. With this second transfer, the tribes will become the caretakers of a combined herd of almost 200 bison, the largest conservation herd of pure, wild Yellowstone bison in Montana, outside Yellowstone National Park.
This paved the way for using Yellowstone’s genetically pure bison to start new conservation herds outside the park. The 139 animals that will be transferred to the Fort Peck Reservation are currently held at Ted Turner’s Green Ranch. These bison have undergone more than eight year of multi-generational testing.
The public is invited and the Fort Peck Tribes will provide bus transportation to the site from the senior center that is located near Tribal Express on U.S. Hwy. 2 in Poplar. People wishing to ride need to be there by 8:45 a.m. Transportation will be available for anyone.
For those driving, the site is north from Hwy. 2 on Montana Hwy. 13, turn right at mile marker 19, travel three miles and go over a cattle guard, entering the cultural range unit. Green flagging will be posted.
A feed for the public will follow at the activity center in Poplar.
“It’s a pretty historical moment with the return of bison onto their homelands,” Robert Magnan, of the Fort Peck Tribes Fish and Game Department, said.
Magnan said he expects a large turnout of local people, state and federal officials and Montana and national media.
The tribes have two buffalo ranges. The Turtle Mountain Buffalo Ranch is located six miles north of the cultural range unit. Currently, there are about 200 head on that range. A buffalo herd was reintroduced on the reservation in 1999. Hunting is permitted with permits from the tribes at the Turtle Mountain Buffalo Ranch only.
State wildlife officials recently announced a decision to implement the recent approval by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Fish and Wildlife Commission to relocate the 139 bison to the reservation.
Following the completion of environmental analysis and review of public comments, a decision by the FWP found no significant issues associated with relocating bison to the tribal location, or to three out-of-state locations that were also under consideration.
The finding essentially follows the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s October approval to keep the bison within state borders if a finding of no significance was determined.
The wild bison were part of a quarantine feasibility study conducted by FWP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at a facility near Corwin Springs north of Yellowstone National Park. The work was aimed at finding a feasible method to produce wild bison free of brucellosis, a disease that can cause some pregnant bison, elk and domestic cattle to abort their first calf. Bison in the program have been repeatedly tested over the course of their quarantine and are brucellosis-free.
In March, state wildlife officials requested proposals from agencies or organizations capable of permanently caring for the bison for conservation purposes. The bison have been held at the Green Ranch, west of Bozeman, during their five-year monitoring period.
Brucellosis, initially introduced to North America through livestock but now also found in Yellowstone bison, has been the main reason for opposition by some individuals and groups to the relocation of Yellowstone bison, even though bison have not been implicated in a single case of transmission of brucellosis to cattle in the wild.
FWP received 10 proposals, four of which were analyzed in the environmental assessment. The examined proposals included one from the Fort Peck Tribes and others from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Wildlife Conservation Society Zoo Consortium in New York and Ohio.
Yellowstone bison have been called true descendants of the massive wild herds, totaling up to 30 million that roamed the West over a century ago. By the late 1890s, only 1,000 bison remained in North America, and most of these animals were held on private ranches and interbred with cattle. The numbers dwindled because of illegal hunting.
Today, Yellowstone’s bison population of approximately 4,900 is the largest wild herd in the nation, as well as one of the few herds free of all cattle genes. This combination of genetics and lack of domestication sets the Yellowstone bison apart from any other herd and offers hope for complete restoration of the species.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
(Editor’s Note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence to The Herald-News and The Searchlight to help keep the public informed and to illustrate that the jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues in the 17-bed facility.)
As of Monday, Nov. 10, 19 inmates were housed in the Roosevelt County Jail. Valley County Detention Center was holding two female inmates and the Fort Benton Detention Center was holding three males to alleviate overcrowding.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail between Tuesday, Nov. 4, and Monday, Nov. 10:
•Adam Alonzo, 31, Williston, N.D./San Bernadino, Calif., criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell.
•Malinda Bibb, 31, Minot, N.D., arrested on a warrant for bail condition violation, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Kyle Fuchs, 32, Cul-
bertson, disorderly conduct, partner/family member assault, assault with weapon, unlawful restraint, criminal endangerment.
•Steven Gray Hawk, 37, Poplar, arrested on U.S. Marshal’s warrant.
•Alexander Jirone, 33, Rapid City, S.D., criminal endangerment, fleeing or eluding a peace officer, speeding on non-interstate-exceed night speed limit, operating with expired registration, operating without liability insurance.
•Jennifer Johnshoy, 29, Crookston, Minn., criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Gary Jones, 44, Madisonville, Tenn., assault on a peace officer.
•Dakota Kinzie, 23, Wolf Point, assault on a peace officer.
•Dustin Kinzie, 20, Wolf Point, criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal endangerment, criminal possession with intent to distribute, criminal endangerment.
•Jason Knight, 37, Spokane, Wash., criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Robert Lindquist, Chattoroy, Wash., 41, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence.
•Darryl Lewis, 45, San Bernadino, Calif., criminal contempt warrant.
•Timothy Oglesby, 31, Hot Springs, Ark., out-of- county warrant.
•Michelle Parker, 41, San Diego, Calif., arrested on bench warrant.
•Derek Reed, 32, Seattle, Wash., criminal contempt warrant.
•Jeremy Sepanski, 30, Plentywood, forgery, theft, obstruction of a peace officer.
•Kelly Severson, 47, Saco, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
•Alvin Sherrill, 61, Culbertson, driving a motor vehicle while privilege is revoked, driving under the influence, serving sentence.
•Christopher Smith, 24, Abilene, Texas, speeding and driving under the influence. Bonded out.
•Kalob Trowbridge, 22, Wolf Point, assault on a peace officer.