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Gaither gets six years after being caught with drugs in jail

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Nicholas Jay Gaither, 25, of Polson was about to be released from the Lake County jail on April 4 when detention staff found him attempting to hide a baggie under his foot as he was changing into his street clothes.

The baggie contained what appeared to be a black tarry substance that Gaither said he knew was heroin. He told detention staff that he found the baggie sticking out of a vent in the jail’s exercise room and that it was worth a lot of money. He admitted to staff that the baggie dropped out of his underwear as he was dressing out of his orange jumpsuit to be released. The bag of heroin was put  on a digital scale, and it weighed over 30 grams.

Gaither was serving time on felony charges that include endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of bail jumping, theft in excess of $5,000 and criminal possession of dangerous drugs. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $197,385.97. 

He was set to have the imposition of sentencing deferred for a period of ten years, which means: he stays out of jail if he stays out trouble during that period. That changed on April 4 when the heroin was found.

On Nov. 21, Gaither was committed to the state Department of Corrections at District Court in Polson for a total of ten years with four years suspended for his original felony charges. 

The sentence was handed down by District Judge James Manley and was in accordance to a plea agreement reached in August that resolved five separate cases against Gaither.

Gaither had three of the cases resolved back in April and faced sentencing in May. He had entered an Alford plea to one count of endangering the welfare of a child. In an Alford plea, a defendant concedes the case based on state’s evidence without admitting guilt. It still results in a conviction. 

In this matter, Gaither was accused of leaving drugs and or drug paraphernalia in an area of a home where a two-year-old child could access it. One count of criminal possession of dangerous drugs was dismissed as part of the plea agreement. The second matter involved a bail-jumping charge stemming from the endangerment case. Gaither admitted to the bail-jumping charge.

Gaither also admitted to his role in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in rare coins, collectors' watches, guns, antique guns, family heirlooms and other valuable items from a storage unit in Polson. The victim of the theft, who we have chosen not to identify, told the court that some of the items stolen may never be recovered and were handed down through generations including a rifle from the Revolutionary War.

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