Written by Herald-News
Ben Hunn, a 47-year-old licensed retail pharmacist in Sidney, pleaded guilty to distribution of Vicodin resulting in death. Hunn faces 15 years in prison, two years supervised release and $500,000 in fines.
Sentencing has been set for Nov. 5 in Billings, before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters. Hunn is being detained pending sentencing.
In an offer of proof filed with the court the government told the court that on Oct. 19, 2013, Ben Willard Hunn, a Sidney pharmacist, distributed Vicodin (hydrocodone), Soma, Ambien and Xanax to a Sidney, Montana resident. Later that night, the victim died of a drug overdose. When Drug Enforcement Agency agents interviewed Hunn, he admitted that he diverted hundreds of prescription pills to the victim and the victim’s parents over the course of a year, from October 2012 through October 2013.
Hunn admitted that he did not know which prescriptions were legitimate and which were not; he simply printed duplicate labels from another prescription, placed them on the prescription bottles, and dispensed the controlled substances. On the date the victim died, Hunn admitted that he “stocked up the whole family.” The investigation showed that on that date, Hunn distributed Vicodin (hydrocodone), Soma, Ambien, and Xanax to the deceased victim. The autopsy report listed the probable cause of death as a mixed drug overdose (carisoprodol and meprobamate). The medical examiner and toxicologists in the case also concluded that the amount of Vicodin (hydrocodone) in the victim’s system was toxic/fatal by itself.
“This conviction addresses one of Montana’s most harmful yet quiet problems — the misuse of otherwise legitimate medications,” said Michael Cotter, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana. “The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to fighting this silent scourge in our communities so that those rightfully prescribed medication are not robbed of treatment and the community is protected from those who unlawfully abuse and manipulate access to medication.”
“The indictment and subsequent plea agreement of Pharmacist Ben Hunn demonstrates DEA’s continued commitment to identifying those individuals who illegally divert otherwise legitimate medications and misuse their position of trust for personal gain to the detriment of all our communities,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Schiller.
The prosecution was part of Project Safe Bakken, a cooperative effort between federal and state prosecutors and federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in Montana and North Dakota. The investigation was conducted by the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad, which is comprised of law enforcement from DEA, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Billings Police Department; also the Sidney Police Department and the Montana Crime Lab.
Written by Herald-News
Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming is in need of volunteers and troop leaders in Wolf Point. Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming covers over 245,000 square miles, 79 counties and in our council area there are over 128,000 girls that need a positive role model in their lives.
As a volunteer, you'll introduce girls to new experiences that show them they're capable of more than they ever imagined. You'll be their supporter, guide and mentor, helping them develop skills and confidence that will last long after the meeting is over. Imagine the smiles, the excitement, the memories made — those are the moments you'll share at Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts is the number one leadership organization for girls and women in the world. This premier leadership organization has been building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place for over a century. The girls of your community want to be a part of this amazing journey but they need volunteers and troop leaders to guide them.
Every girl has the ability to lead, but only one girl in five believes she can. A lack of role models, unhealthy images of beauty, peer pressure to not stand out, and a mean-girl culture are just some of the obstacles that stand between girls and their full potential. You can be the difference in bringing girls one step closer to breaking down those barriers.
Volunteering opportunities with Girl Scouts are tailored to fit your schedule, your skills, and your interests. Your time as a volunteer will provide girls with courage and vision to pursue whatever interests, causes and leadership roles that are most important to them. With your support, girls will stand up, stand out and stand tall.
Explore what being a volunteer could mean for you by signing up at www.gsmw.org.
Written by Herald-News
(Editor’s Note: The following blotter is a partial list of activities involving the Wolf Point police and volunteer fire department between July 28 and Aug. 3. All those arrested or cited are presumed innocent.)
5:47 p.m., officers responded to the 200 block of Fallon Street for a report of an assault. The investigation continues.
6:02 p.m., officers responded to a business on the 100 block of First Avenue South for a report of a theft of a medical donation jar from a counter. The investigation continues.
2:23 p.m., officers responded to the 800 block of Fourth Avenue South for a report of an altercation between two adult males. Officers separated the men and advised them to avoid each other.
2:37 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a request to remove a male who was yelling obscenities and arrested Breon Dupree, 31, of Wolf Point, for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass.
8:02 p.m., officers responded to the Missouri River near the lagoon for a report of two juveniles, one male and one female, steeling from vehicles. The investigation was transferred to Fort Peck Department of Law and Justice investigators.
8:21 pm., officers conducted a traffic stop at Third Avenue South and Edgar Street on a vehicle traveling at high speed and cited Cody Corne, 29, of Wolf Point for unlawful possession of dangerous drugs and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
9:37 p.m., officers responded to an apartment building on the 300 block of Edgar Street for a report of several individuals peering in windows. Police were unable to locate the individuals.
10:16 p.m., officers responded to the 600 block of Fifth Avenue South for a report of a teenage male attempting to steal gas by siphoning. The subject fled, leaving a motorcycle he was driving. That bike had been reported stolen. The investigation continues.
11:55 p.m., officers responded to the 200 block of Helena Street and arrested Melvin Lilley Jr., 39, of Wolf Point, on a tribal warrant.
7:35 p.m., officers responded to an apartment building on the 400 block of Custer Street for a report of a burglary. A door was damaged during an entry to an apartment but nothing was reported stolen. The investigation continues.
8:37 p.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Helena Street for a report from a female that a male had entered her residence and arrested Durand Zoanni, 30, of Wolf Point for domestic abuse.
9:19 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report that an adult male stole two cases of Twisted Tea and ran toward downtown spilling and dropping what he is alleged to have stole as he ran. The investigation continues.
3 a.m., officers responded to Sherman Park for a report of an individual knocking over trash cans and cited Shannon Big Leggins, 23, of Wolf Point, for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
8:53 a.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Fifth Avenue North for a report of a female seeing a three-foot snake in the street. The animal control officer was unable to find the snake.
10:22 a.m., officers responded to Clayton-Stevenson Memorial Chapel for a report of an unknown male breaking two windows with rocks. He fled before police arrival.
4:27 p.m., officers responded to the 500 block of Dawson Street for a report of a residential burglary with a television reported stolen. The investigation continues.
7:16 p.m., officers responded to Old Town Grill for a report of a customer who failed to pay and fled in a black pickup. Police later identified the man. The investigation continues.
8:19 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report of a pickup truck hitting the building and the driver fleeing on foot, leaving passengers in his vehicle.
12:44 a.m., officers responded to a report of an intoxicated male shadow boxing and throwing rocks at a train. Officers arrested Ocean Deserly, age not stated, on a warrant.
6:26 a.m., officers responded to the 100 block of Fairweather Street for a report of a male shooting a BB gun, breaking windows. Police were unable to locate.
9:48 a.m., officers responded to McDonalds for a report of a two-vehicle accident in the parking lot and cited Blake A. Martinez, 21, of Wolf Point, for driving without a license.
11:22 a.m., officers responded to the 200 block of Anaconda Street for a report of a hit and run accident with a woman struck by a Dodge Caravan minivan that fled the scene. The woman was flown to a Billings hospital. Officers located the minivan about a half hour later on the 500 block of Cascade Street and arrested Ramona Fern Clark Vivier, 41, of Wolf Point for aggravated assault, driving under the influence, driving without a license and no insurance. Officers also arrested Mareno Eder, 40, of Wolf Point, who was a passenger in Vivier’s vehicle for unlawful possession of prescription medication.
5:46 p.m., officers responded to the Amtrak station for a report of a 12-year-old female juvenile who would not leave on a train with her grandmother and fled the station. The girl returned to the station and left on the train with her grandmother.
5:51 p.m., officers responded to Albertson’s for a report of an adult female stealing a family pack of meat. The investigation continues.
9:40 p.m., officers responded to the Amtrak station for a request to remove a 46-year-old intoxicated male from a train.
7:08 p.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Second Avenue North to investigate an animal complaint and arrested the complainant, Michael J. Ferkovich, 47, of Wolf Point for disorderly conduct.
In addition to the above calls, the WPPD responded to the following calls between July 28 and Aug. 3: checks of wellbeing, 15; civil standby, three; domestic disturbance, six; public assistance, five; motor vehicle accident, three; removal of unwanted individuals, 11; animal complaints, three; medical assistance, three; alarm, three; fire assistance, two; assist other agency, seven; unfounded report, 12; fireworks complaints, none; driving complaints, six; and school requested assistance, one.
Written by John Plestina
The deceased driver of a semi that went off the road and crashed into a chain link fence at the water treatment plant about six miles east of Wolf Point on Tuesday, July 29, had a heart attack prior to the crash, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.
MHP identified the driver as Edwin Rennick, 63, of Glasgow.
Rennick was driving an empty gravel truck eastbound on U.S. Hwy. 2, en route to a jobsite in Poplar, when he left the roadway about 8:45 a.m., struck a post and finally the heavy duty chain link fence about 800 feet off the road, MHP Sgt. Jeff Kent told The Herald-News.
He said an autopsy was done and the medical examiner determined that a medical condition caused the crash. Kent confirmed that Rennick suffered a heart attack.
"It was kind of an unique crash. I did not believe the injuries suffered in the crash were life threatening," he said.
MHP was notified of the crash at about 10 a.m., after a Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice officer stopped to check on the truck and found Rennick deceased in the cab of the tractor.
LSC Inc., of Fort Peck, owns the truck.
Kent said there was damage to the fence. Damage to the tractor was minimal.
He said speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash.
Written by John Plestina
The developer of the former Kenco Refinery east of Wolf Point envisions an environmental cleanup of the site and construction of a new refinery, built to current standards that could accommodate 20,000 barrels daily, and a rail terminal, both serving the Bakken Oil Field.
The long abandoned Kenco Refinery opened in 1963 and closed in 1985. The site, located about seven miles east of Wolf Point on Montana Hwy. 13, is about one half mile south of U.S. Hwy 2.
Ken Elliott and Steve Houston, doing business locally as Wolf Point Green LLC, purchased the 110-acre former Kenco site in December 2011 with plans to build what Elliott called a “clean-energy campus,” that would include a new refinery and rail terminal within about four years, possibly less. Longer range plans include a wind farm and solar and geothermal energy production that would partially power the refinery. There are also plans to build a hotel, greenhouses heated with energy produced within the site and a commercial fish farm.
Elliott said he envisions oil industry development in Montana to increase beyond current development near the North Dakota border that includes development that has been going on in the Culbertson and Bainville areas.
“There are 15 crude oil terminals in North Dakota. We’ve got none in Montana,” Elliott said of the need to build a rail terminal.
“One of the things the Burlington Northern is interested in working with us is the risk of fires and we’re out here, not in a community,” Elliott said.
A refinery currently under construction near Dickinson, N.D., would be the first since the 1970s. It is slated to open before a refinery in the Wolf Point area could be completed.
Currently, much of the Bakken Oilfield’s crude oil is shipped south for refining.
Elliott said a refinery in eastern Montana would be a source of producing diesel fuel, which is needed by farmers and ranchers.
Known as the Kenco Refinery, both Kenco Refining Inc., and Tesoro Petroleum Corp., operated the former refinery during the 22 years it was in operation. Ken Luff, now of Denver, Colo., was the principal owner.
That original refinery was on between 25 and 30 acres of the 110-acre property.
The remains of a crude oil furnace that vented to the atmosphere, other now unusable equipment in various states of disrepair, the remains of Kenco’s office building, several tanks and remains of tanks, and acres of oil and diesel fuel saturated soil remain at the site. In some places, oil has soaked several feet beneath the surface, some not visible, while there are oily patches on the ground in some locations.
“There have been 11 [environmental] studies on this site,” Elliott said.
“We’ve got a heck of an environmental cleanup,” Elliott said.
A cleanup of an estimated 315,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil is estimated by a recent study to cost about $30 million. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated the cost at $25 million in 2008.
The EPA declared the property a superfund cleanup site in 1997. It is a designated Brownfield site where expansion, redevelopment or reuse of the property might be complicated by the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.
“They’ve had one environmental issue after another here,” Elliott said.
He said there was a fire at the site soon after it opened in 1963.
Wolf Point Green is working with the Wolf Point headquartered Great Northern Development Corporation and the Eastern Montana Brownfields Coalition. The two organizations are administering the Clean Up Revolving Loan Fund and Assessment Grant for petroleum and hazardous substance cleanup.
“Martin [DeWitt, executive director of GNDC] and his group reached out to us in 2011. He suggested we take a look at the refinery,” Elliott said.
“I met with the EPA a couple of weeks ago in Denver,” he said.
Elliott said he told EPA officials what his plans are, including to build a new refinery.
“We’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,300 jobs that will be created with this,” he said.
Elliott said a million barrels a day of oil reflects about 50 percent of what is in the ground.
“Everybody in this part of the state knows what it’s like in North Dakota. It’s a disaster,” Elliott said.
He said eastern Montana could get ahead of it with new infrastructure, housing and schools.
“We work all over the country. The county commissioners here have been great,” Elliott said. “The tribe has been very good working with us.”
Elliott said Wolf Point Green has the support of GNDC, the Fort Peck Tribes and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
Tester chairs the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
“So he wants it to happen,” Elliott said.
Once Refinery Office
The building that housed the Kenco Refinery office remains standing in ruins.
(Photo by John Plestina)
Refinery Now In Ruins
Parts of the long shuttered refinery are in ruins.
(Photo by John Plestina)
Oil saturated soil remains at what is left of an oil tank.
(Photo by John Plestina)
Small pools of oily soil remain in some places.
(Photo by John Plestina)