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Lake County District Court news for Feb. 11, 2010

Judge Deborah K. Christopher dealt with the following cases on Feb. 4:

Robert Lee Browning, 47, of Ronan, was committed to the Department of Corrections for five years with all suspended but 44 days for felony burglary.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Nov. 20, 2007 incident when a Tribal Police Officer was approached by Browning. He told the officer that he purchased a GPS tracking device for $20 and that at the time, he thought he was buying a cell phone. He indicated that he would not be able to identify the seller, but that he wanted help in getting his money back. He delivered the GPS to the officer.

The officer could smell alcohol coming from Browning and he admitted to the officer that he had been intoxicated the previous evening.

Later that same day, the Tribal Police received a report that the Tribal Forestry Department had been burglarized. Items missing included a GPS Unit, ski gloves, a back pack and wool bibs. The GPS Unit was identified as the one belonging to the Tribal Forestry Department. Browning was also identified in a security video.

Courtney Ann Cataneo, 29, of Bigfork, was committed to the DOC for five years with all suspended but two years and was fined $85 for felony theft and will be ordered to pay full restitution in an amount determined by the probation office. This sentencing is to run concurrent with the sentencing out of Idaho.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Sept. 24 incident when the Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a report from a woman claiming that her daughter, Cataneo, had stolen approximately 11 checks from her home in Lake County between Sept. 9 and Sept 13. She also noted that several items had gone missing from her home.

In an interview with Cataneo, conducted by a Lake County Detective, Cataneo admitted to writing 10 of the 11 checks identified by her mother.

She also admitted to taking several items from her parents’ home without permission and selling them at pawn shops. Items included a video camera, camera, necklace and a chain saw. She also admitted to stealing items from Target, Costco and Kmart.

The value of the checks cashed and the items stolen were more than $1,500.

Savana Lynae Nelson, 23, of Lolo, pleaded guilty to felony driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fourth offense. According to a plea agreement, Nelson will be sentenced to the DOC for placement in an appropriate correctional facility or program for 13 months. If Nelson successfully completes a residential alcohol treatment program, the remainder of the 13-month sentence will be served on probation. Also, Nelson will be sentenced to three years to the DOC or Montana State Prison with all of that time suspended, and will be fined $1,160.

Sentencing is set for Wednesday, March 11 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Jan. 17 incident near mile marker 22 on U.S. Highway 93 when a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper noticed an oncoming passenger vehicle weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed. The trooper cited a 96 mph radar reading. The trooper turned around and activated his lights when he caught up to the car, but when the vehicle did not stop he turned on his siren. The vehicle took approximately two miles to stop and during this time, weaved from the fog line to the center line and crossed the center line at least one time.

Once the vehicle stopped, the trooper approached the driver, identified as Nelson, and while speaking with her, he glanced at the man in the passenger front seat that indicated to the trooper that Nelson had been drinking by pointed to her and mouthed, “She is wasted.”

The trooper could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Nelson. She produced a breath sample that registered a .243% BAC. She was then placed under arrest and taken to jail for further processing.

During booking, Nelson told the trooper that she had not been driving and even after the trooper told her that the stop was recorded on video, she insisted that the male passenger had been the driver. Nelson refused all sobriety tests. Her driving history indicated that she has three prior DUI convictions.

Keil Orr, 27, of St. Ignatius, pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs - fourth or subsequent offense and to misdemeanor driving while license is suspended or revoked.

An omnibus hearing is set for Thursday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.

According to court records, the charges stem from a Jan. 16 incident when a St. Ignatius Police Officer was dispatched to a home in St. Ignatius due to a report of suspicious activity.

A man stated that three children were playing outside when a pickup truck tried to entice the children toward his truck which was currently parked across the street. He also told the officer that a male, later identified as Orr, got out of the truck and appeared to have trouble walking after speaking with the children.

While running the registration, the officer saw a man standing in the bushes alongside a house. A Tribal Officer and a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy then arrived and while the officer was explaining the situation to the other officers, Orr approached the truck. He identified himself and said the truck was not his, but belonged to his cousin. While speaking, the officer could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath and his balance appeared to be impaired. 

When asked about the children, he placed his hands behind his back as if waiting to be handcuffed. He agreed to a series of sobriety tests and his breath test resulted in .191% BAC.

Orr was then arrested and taken to the jail for further processing. He underwent three sobriety tests which indicated that he was under the influence and an Intoxilyzer test measured his BAC of .202%.

A history check of his driving record showed three prior convictions of DUI and that his driving privileges were suspended for failure to complete chemical dependency treatment after his most recent DUI conviction.

Dustin Jade Morgan, 26, of Pocatelo, Idaho, pleaded not guilty to felonies criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession with intent to distribute, tampering with evidence, accountability - tampering with evidence, criminal endangerment, and accountability - criminal endangerment. Morgan remains in custody and an omnibus hearing is set for Thursday, Feb. 25 at 9 a.m.

Stephen D Leischner, 23, of American Falls, Idaho, pleaded not guilty to felonies criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession with intent to distribute dangerous drugs, tampering with evidence, accountability - tampering with evidence, criminal endangerment, and accountability - criminal endangerment.

Leischner remains in custody and an omnibus hearing is set for Thursday, Feb. 25 at 9 a.m.

According to court records, the charges for Morgan and Leischner stem from a Jan. 19 incident at 1:30 p.m. when a Northwest Drug Taskforce Agent was contacted by a Parole officer about two males selling methamphetamine in the Lake County area. A confidential informant described one male as “Stevie” as being 5’7” tall, bald or shaved head, a goatee and tattooed writing down each forearm. This description matched that of Stephen Leischner. The informant told the agent that he had a large amount of meth, he had a handgun, along with cash and marijuana and that the males where going to be in Lake County for a few days to sell or trade the meth for pistols or shotguns that could be sawed of.

The informant placed a call to Stevie and his friend, Dustin Morgan, answered the phone and stated that they were in Boulder, but they would come to Lake County to sell some meth to the informant. 

On Jan. 20, the agent was stationed in Arlee with a tribal police captain. The informant was to meet the two males in about 30 minutes. They observed the males in a green Cadillac. They followed in three cars behind it.  Two other officers were stationed in Ravalli and waited and then as the Cadillac was northbound on U.S. Highway 93, they fell in behind it as one officer fell back. 

All three law enforcement vehicles activated their emergency lights. The Cadillac then accelerated to high speeds towards Ravalli Hill. It proceeded northbound and took a right turn into St. Ignatius. At times, the Cadillac’s speed was more than 100 mph. It continued on Old Highway 93, before again reentering Highway 93, south towards Ravalli and turned around in Arlee and then headed north. Near mile marker 21, a deputy observed the passenger throwing things out of the vehicle window, which were later recovered.

The chase went west on Highway 200, then north on Highway 212 where officers were waiting with spike strips. The chase ended in Charlo, near Olsen road and Highway 212, where the two men exited the car and began running east and were stopped by law enforcement.

In the vehicle, the agent observed white material that appeared to be crystal methamphetamine on the front seat, floorboards, window seals and right side door panel, a glass pipe, and a leafy substance that appeared to be marijuana on the front passenger seat. A scale was also recovered in Ravalli.

After a warrant was issued, a search of the vehicle recovered a black computer bag and a red cooler, a large quantity of unused plastic bags hidden in socks, a glass pipe with meth residue, a black lock-box containing another black box with scattered pieces of meth shards inside, two computers, cell phones and a number of 9MM shells. 

Joseph Eugene Depoe, 45, of Pablo, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs - first offense. He was found guilty and sentenced to the Lake County Jail for six months with all suspended except 10 days, was fined $1,000 with all suspended except $400 and charged $125 in court costs.

According to court records, the charge stems from a Sept. 25 incident when Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a report of an occupied vehicle in the ditch off of North Valley Creek Rd.

When the deputy arrived, a black car was partway on the road and part way in the ditch, with headlights on, radio barring and the keys were in the ignition. He also noticed an open can of beer in the center console. Depoe was passed out in the drivers seat.

A Montana Highway Patrol Trooper arrived on scene and awoke Depoe. The trooper noticed that Depoe smelled of an alcohol beverage and he scored six of six possible clues on the HGN test. 

Depoe refused to provide a breath sample. He was then arrested and transported to tribal law and order for further processing.
On the walk and turn test, Depoe scored six out of eight possible clues. On the one leg stand test, he swayed, raised his arms and put his foot down more than three times and was unable to complete the test.
 
Judge C.B. McNeil dealt with the following cases on Wednesday, Feb. 3:
 
Brian K. Mitchell, 21, of St. Ignatius, pleaded guilty to felony custodial interference.
He was found guilty and sentencing is set for Thursday, March 10 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, the charges stem from an Oct. 3, 2007 incident when a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle with Mitchell inside along with two other occupants. One of the occupants was reported as a runaway.
 
On Oct. 5, the deputy was responding to a reoccurring runaway report. The deputy went to a home in St. Ignatius where Mitchell had been known to stay. Mitchell was found in the basement and a minor was found under the bed.
 
David Mathew Okland, 49, of Polson, pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 
 
An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, March 10 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, the charges stem from a Dec. 27, 2009 incident when a Polson Police Officer observed a vehicle crossing the Polson Bridge and was cited at going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. After the officer turned on his lights, the vehicle did not respond. Once the officer turned on his siren the vehicle pulled over after .61 miles.
 
As the officer spoke with the driver, identified as Okland, he could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage, and observed that Okland’s eyes were bloodshot and glassy. During field sobriety testing, the officer observed that Okland’s balance was impaired and when asked to perform the HGN test, he became combative and told the officer, “I can’t. I’m drunk.”
 
He was then arrested and taken to jail for further processing. During booking, Okland performed a series of sobriety maneuvers that indicated that he was under the influence of alcohol, but refused a breath test.
 
A check of Okland’s driving history showed that he has four prior DUI convictions.
 
Cydrese E. Hendrickx, 22, of Arlee, pleaded not guilty to felonies theft and burglary.
An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, March 3 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, the charges stem from a Nov. 9, 2009 incident when a man called in a burglary report at his home in Polson. The man told a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy that he had come home to find several items missing. He said he left the door unlocked. Items missing included a digital Nikon camera, camera bag, two printers and a purse. Serial numbers were provided and the items taken were worth more than $1,500.
 
On Dec. 11, 2009 a person from the White Elephant Pawn Shop in Ronan called to report that Hendrickx had attempted to pawn a Nikon camera matching the serial numbers of the stolen camera. The person refused to buy the camera and called the police.
 
Hendrickx was then asked about the camera by a Lake County Sheriff’s Detective, and she stated that she got it as a Christmas present from Sheldon Haynes. The detective contacted Haynes who confirmed the story and stated that she bought it from two individuals in a parking lot during a basketball game.
 
However, date-stamped pictures of Hayes were taken prior to the date she claimed to have purchased the camera.
 
In a re-interview, Haynes admitted to entering the Polson home with Hendrickx and to taking the printers and the camera. Haynes admitted to trying to sell the printers, but nobody would buy them, so she dumped them in an area near Terrace Lake Road. 
 
Hendrickx later admitted to burglarizing the Polson home with Haynes.
 
Sheldon May Haynes, 20, of Arlee, pleaded not guilty to felony theft.
 
An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, March 3 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, on Dec. 9, Haynes purposely or knowingly obtained or exerted unauthorized control over property belonging to a Polson man, and the property was valued more than $1,500.
 
Nichole Madplume AKA Nichole Amaya, 22, of Polson, pleaded not guilty to felonies criminal distribution of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, March 10 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, the charges stem from an Oct. 13, 2009 incident when Madplume went to Gull Printing in Polson, accompanied by her significant other, where she purchased super glue. She then returned and informed the clerk that she needed to ship a package via Federal Express.
 
While looking through the shipping materials, the clerk observed Madplume take what appeared to be coffee bean bags out of her pockets.  Madplume told her it was coffee and she then placed them into an envelope she was planning to ship.
 
After the clerk was unable to find an account Madplume told her to look up, she then exited the shop without sending it.
 
Later that day, a woman claiming to be Madplume’s mother, called Gull Printing to find out what needed to be done to have the item shipped.
 
A few minutes later, a man, claiming to be Madplume’s father-in-law, provided the clerk with a credit card number and other information so that they package could be shipped to him.
 
The clerk was suspicious of the activity and called the police, and a detective investigated the package. He could feel two or three packages inside and detected an odor that was consistent with that of unburned marijuana, coffee and chocolate.
 
After receiving a search warrant, the detective opened the package and discovered five prescription pills that appeared to be methadone hydrochloride, five pills that appeared to be hydrocodone bitartrate, and what appeared to be marijuana.
 
Tiffany Cutfinger, pleaded guilty to felony deceptive practices. She was found guilty and sentencing is set for Thursday, March 10 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, the charges stem from a May 18 incident when Ronan Police Officers received a theft report from an employee of St. Char-Ro in Ronan of several credit cards taken from the back room of the store.
 
A list of transactions was provided to the officer after the cards were missing. On May 15, $199.96 worth of goods was purchased from Target in Missoula. The next day, a man and a woman attempted to purchase goods with seven of the cards, all were declined. The store security man and woman, and the woman was identified as Cutfinger.
 
The employee of St-Char-Ro informed the officer that Cutfinger was in the shop the day the cards were missing.
 
Other transactions were made to purchase goods in four different stores in Polson and Missoula totaling $1,661.62. One transaction was voided in the amount of $878.75 because the cashier asked to see an ID.
 
Clifford E. (Sonny) Burke, Jr., 27, of Ronan, pleaded guilty to felony tampering with witnesses and informants.
 
An omnibus hearing is set for Wednesday, March 3 at 9 a.m.
 
According to court records, on Dec. 23, 2009, a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy spoke with two men regarding a theft of approximately 15 metal gate panels. One man stated that Burke had been bragging about how he and another man had stolen some metal fence panels from a residence off of Round Butte Road in Ronan, and then sold them for $800.
 
This man became aware that his uncle was missing the panels, and called Burke and told him to return them. Burke said he had already spent the money and there was no getting them back. He told him not to “rat him out.”
 
On Dec. 26, 2009, the deputy went to Burke’s residence to speak with him about the panels. Burke was extremely agitated and threatening toward the deputy when he was trying to explain why he was there.
 
On Dec. 27, the deputy was advised that Burke was in the driveway of the man who told him to return the panels. Burke was revving the engine and did a “cookie” in his driveway and was threatening him to keep quiet about the panels.

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