CS Masthead

Sheriff Takes Over Poplar Police Services

The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office is taking over law enforcement services in Poplar with the disbanding of the municipal police department. The county commissioners approved an interlocal law enforcement agreement with Poplar during a special commission meeting Friday, Jan. 30.
The commissioners and Sheriff Jason Frederick said the Poplar City Council had agreed to the RCSO providing services.
The commission approved a resolution allowing Frederick and commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard to sign an interlocal agreement with Poplar municipal officials for the remainder of 2015 and a separate agreement for 2016. The 2015 agreement was set to begin Sunday, Feb. 1, or as soon as the Poplar City Council approves it. Both parties signed the agreement Monday, Feb. 2.
“They made a recommendation for us to take over,” Frederick said.
“There is a substantial amount in the city budget for law enforcement,” Nygaard said. “Poplar has agreed to turn over their [law enforcement] budget.”
Frederick said that budget is $210,000 annually.
Frederick said two members of the Poplar City Council contacted him about providing law enforcement services.
“They just can’t field a police force,” he said.
That includes hiring and retaining certified officers.
The Poplar Police Department recently got down to one member, a police chief who had been hired recently.
Poplar resident Don Gudgell said there has been constant turnover with Poplar police, with residents relying on the RCSO and FPTDLJ for protection.
“He was able to hire a couple of guys who were uncertified,” Frederick said.
Both left the department within a short time. One is now working for the FPTDLJ.
Frederick said the funding would allow the RCSO to provide deputies and vehicles for Poplar.
Two deputies will be hired and the RCSO will take over a small office the Poplar Police Department used.
The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice provides law enforcement services in Poplar, however Montana law mandates that incorporated cities maintain police services. Contracted services with county sheriffs are permitted.
The RCSO has been contracting to provide services for eastern Roosevelt County communities including Culbertson and Bainville.
Questions have been raised recently about the level of funding from cities on the east side of the county with increasing crime due to Bakken oil exploration.
“We can go to cities on the east end that are paying and say, ‘Look what Poplar is doing,’” commissioner Gary Macdonald said.
He added that if the county is proactive rather than reactive, maybe the RCSO could do more about the crime problem.
The RCSO has made numerous drug-related felony arrests in the Culbertson and Bainville areas, including violent offenders. There have been recent incidents of violence directed toward deputies. Fifteenth District Court in Wolf Point has been jammed with felony drug cases from the east end of the county and the jail has a majority inmate population of drug offenders that are not from the area.

CHS Speech And Drama Place At State

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The Culbertson High School Speech and Drama team competed at the state meet in Ennis, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 30-31. All six CHS competitors competed in the semi-final round; and Dominica Granada, Chase Kilzer and Tessa Larsen all competed in finals, as well. Granada placed third MPA; Larsen finished sixth in Humorous Solo; Kilzer finished seventh in Original Oratory; McKade Mahlen finished ninth in Impromptu; and Michaela Cathey finished 10th in Mime. The team brought home third place honors, a trophy in Class C Speech and eighth in Drama.

Two Blocks Long

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This truck and trailer passed through Culbertson Wednesday, Jan. 28. It was almost two blocks long with the two workers walking alongside the truck using a steering wheel to navigate the long load around the corners in town.  (Photos by Nancy Mahan)

Fairview Resident Sentenced In Federal Court For Drug Charge

A U.S. district judge rejected a plea agreement and imposed a harsher sentence on a drug offender who is originally from Roosevelt County, Friday, Jan. 30.
Authorities say Eugene Vernon Laroche, 48, of Fairview was part of a 17-member drug trafficking organization that transported large amounts of methamphetamine from Washington to lower-level traffickers in the oilfields of northeastern Montana.
Judge Susan P. Watters sentenced Laroche in U.S. District Court in Billings to a 40-month commitment to the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons. The sentence will run consecutively to a sentence imposed in Richland County.
The court recommended that Laroche be sent to the federal prison camp at Yankton, S.D., and that he participate in an intensive substance abuse treatment program.
Watters rejected a plea agreement that called for 18 months to 24 months incarceration.
Laroche faced 10 years to life in prison under a federal indictment.
Laroche had entered a guilty plea to the use of a communications device to assist felony drug trafficking Tuesday, Jan. 20.
Laroche originally pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and aiding and abetting in June 2013.
According to the charging documents, Laroche used a telephone nearly two years ago to obtain a vehicle for Jennie Britt of Sidney and Robert “Dr. Bob” Farrell Armstrong of Moses Lake, Wash., to enable them to obtain methamphetamine in western Montana and bring it to eastern Montana. Armstrong gave Laroche 14 grams of meth as payment, according to charging documents.
The Montana Highway Patrol arrested Britt and Farrell near Whitehall March 15, 2013.
Several people were arrested as part of a multi-agency drug investigation in 2013 that included the transportation of meth from Washington to eastern Montana. A federal grand jury indicted eight members of the organization, including Britt and Armstrong, in September 2013. Armstrong received a 20-year sentence and Britt was sentenced to 40 months.
Laroche was one of the last people indicted in the case.

One Sentenced In Drugs By Deception Case

The first of two people who pleaded guilty in the drugs by deception case that occurred at Roosevelt Medical Center in Cul-
bertson in June 2014, was sentenced in 15th District Court Wednesday, Jan. 28.
Judge David Cybul-
ski sentenced Jesse Allan Gottschalk, 22, of Algonac, Mich., and recently of Culbertson, to a four-year deferred imposition of sentence with credit for time served in the Roosevelt County Jail and a $5,000 fine.
Gottschalk pleaded guilty under a plea agreement in September.
His accomplice, Shelby Rider, 22, of Algonac, Mich., and currently living in North Dakota, is awaiting sentencing. She withdrew a previously entered not guilty plea and pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs in 15th District Court Wednesday, Nov. 12.
Gottschalk and Rider have both admitted in court that they together attempted to obtain drugs from Roosevelt Medical Center, June 25, 2014, by making false claims.
Both had entered not guilty pleas to felony possession of dangerous drugs and attempting to fraudulently obtain dangerous drugs Wednesday, Aug. 13.
Each have been free on $20,000 bond since August and both have signed waivers of extradition.
Gottschalk testified that he was legally prescribed drugs he later became addicted to after the death of his father.


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