- Written by John Plestina
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.
- Written by John Plestina
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.
- Written by John Plestina
County Road Department workers will soon have new wheels as the county commissioners accepted a low bid of $115,400 from Fox Ford of Wolf Point for four new pickups.
The funding will come from the road department’s equipment fund.
Several people were appointed and reappointed to county boards. They were: Robert Peterson, airport board; Tracy O’Connor, airport board; Ruth Jackson, health board; Shelly Isle, health board; Mike Christoffersen, fair board; Dave Wemmer, compensation board; Zane Panasuk, compensation board; Gerald Petersen, planning board; Larry Burshia, planning board; Terry Traeger, weed board; and Gary Hansen, weed board.
The commissioners also voted to approve commissioner Gary Macdonald as acting presiding officer for an absence of presiding officer Duane Nygaard later this month.
The commissioners approved a $7,000 contract with Fusion Communications for fleet mapping for the county’s communication system, which will allow it to work with others in Montana.
In other business, the commissioners voted to approve recertification of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s office’s K9 Unit.
Sheriff Jason Frederick said the recertification must be annual and a trainer came to Wolf Point for that purpose.
- Written by John Plestina
Former Brockton Post Office employee Jana Nygard was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Great Falls Friday, Jan. 23, to 14 months incarceration followed by three years supervised release.
Nygard was accused of stealing $50,392 from the Brockton Post Office between May and August 2013 while working in the position of post master relief.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ordered Nygard to serve the first seven months in prison and the last seven months in home detention, allowing her to begin paying restitution. Full restitution was ordered.
Nygard had entered into a plea agreement to plead guilty to embezzlement of government property. Seven charges related to the post office embezzlement case were dismissed.
According to charging documents, the U.S. Attorney accused Nygard of embezzlement by issuing about 145 money orders for personal use and to customers, and failing to provide payment for the money orders. Nygard was also accused of stealing $1,606 in stamp revenue.
She pleaded not guilty in federal court in October.
“The majority of U.S. Postal Service employees are dedicated public servants who take great pride in ensuring the sanctity and security of U.S. Postal Service property and its funds,” U.S.P.S. Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Pete Gately said. “Unfortunately, Jana Nygard betrayed the trust placed in her by the Postal Service and the public she was sworn to serve. Her actions resulted in deserved consequences for such behavior.”
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Laura Weiss prosecuted the case.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Culbertson High School seniors visit the Nemont headquarters in Scobey for Nemont Career Day. (Submitted photo)
Culbertson High School seniors visited the Nemont headquarters in Scobey for Nemont Career Day, Wednesday, Jan. 28, along with teachers Courtney Hagadone and Mary Machart.
Students were afforded the opportunity to experience not only a professional interview at Nemont, but to also learn more about their local telephone cooperative.
Prior to attending, each senior was asked to review the many job descriptions offered at Nemont. This alone was an eye opener to all of the career positions available. Once chosen, they were to create a resume and a cover letter tailored to that specific position and to the department head and send them off to be reviewed.
Upon arrival, students were greeted and taken to the large board room to prepare them for the day. Dionne Nieskens and Ashley Stentoft introduced various employees who provided great insight into Nemont as well as a new view on a variety of the jobs.
Divided into two groups, the students either went off to tour headquarters or were greeted by the respective department heads who would conduct the interview. As adults, we can all recall that first interview, the interview that we nailed or the interview that went south from the very beginning.
By offering this experience, the students are treated as an adult applying for the job and yet encouraged and given pointers along the way giving them a great sense of accomplishment upon completion.