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Storage unit thief gets 20 years in prison

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A Bigfork man was sentenced at District Court in Polson on Sept. 11 to 20 years in the Montana State Prison and ordered to pay $1,185,500 in restitution on charges of theft and money laundering. Robert Earl Staudenmayer, 33, pled guilty to the charges on July 24 without the benefit of a plea agreement.

Staudenmayer, who has at least eight prior felony convictions, is facing other criminal charges in Missoula and Flathead counties. 

According to charging documents, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a break-in at a self-storage unit in the Bigfork area on June 1. The victim said he had not checked his storage unit since the fall of 2017 and was missing more than $300,000 in gold bars, coins, artwork and guns. A safe was also taken from the storage unit.

On June 21, Lake County Undersheriff Ben Woods received a call from a company called Leads Online with information about a stolen gun. Leads Online is a technology service that helps law enforcement reunite stolen items to their rightful owners. In this case, the owners of a pawnshop in Kalispell used the service to identify a gun that was taken from the storage unit. Pawnshop records indicated that a woman by the name of Kristen Kliev (Staudenmayer’s common-law wife, also known as Cattaneo) pawned the gun. Kliev also pawned another gun that she later repurchased from the pawnshop.

On June 25, Woods learned that Staudenmayer had traded one of the stolen guns to a man for a Jeep. The man told Woods that Staudenmayer claimed to have more guns he wished to sell.

An investigation led to the execution of a search warrant on Kliev’s property where some of the stolen artwork was recovered. Kliev would later claim that Richard Gordon, 49, gave her the artwork to sell along with some guns. Gordon is charged with theft and money laundering. His case is tentatively set for a change of plea hearing on Sept. 18.

Another search warrant was obtained for a residence on Swan River Road where Gordon was staying. More stolen items were located at the residence along with two vehicles. Woods later learned that the vehicles were allegedly purchased with proceeds from the sale of some of the stolen items. When asked about the artwork, Gordon claimed he found them at the dump.

Gordon admitted that he sold gold to a coin collector in Kalispell for $1,907.07. He said he inherited the gold from a brother who recently passed away. Staudenmayer said that Gordon told him the gold was dug up using a treasure map. Staudenamayer admitted that he and Gordon bought a trailer in Chehalis, Washington, and bought a race car in Seattle with proceeds from the gold.

A third defendant, Joshua Wilson, pled guilty to theft for his involvement in the crime and is facing sentencing on Oct. 9. He was allegedly caught in possession of proceeds from the crime. 

At Staudenmayer’s sentencing, the victim – a retired man who served as a fighter pilot during WWII – said the real victims are the heirs of his estate. He also testified to the plight of getting justice in Lake County, saying the entire justice system is “spread thin.”


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