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Man gets 10 years for storage unit thefts

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A Kalispell man, with at least four prior felony convictions, was sentenced at District Court in Polson on Oct. 9 to the Montana State Prison for ten years with six years suspended on a felony theft charge. The charge stems from a storage unit theft in the Ferndale area.

Joshua Wilson, 39, was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,185,500. Wilson was the second of three men ordered to pay that amount in connection with the storage unit thefts. Robert Earl Staudenmayer, 33, was also ordered to pay $1,185,500 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to theft and money laundering charges on July 24. He was sentenced on Sept. 11 to 20 years in the Montana State Prison.

A third man, Richard Gordon, 50, of Bigfork, entered an Alford plea at District Court in Polson on Sept. 18 to felony charges of theft and money laundering and is set to be sentenced on Nov. 6.

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, 2018. The victim, a retired pilot who served as a fighter pilot in WWII, said he had not checked his storage unit since the fall of 2017. He is missing more than $300,000 in gold bars, coins, artwork and guns. A safe was also taken from the storage unit.

Some items were located in pawnshops, coin shops and second-hand stores from Northwest Montana to Seattle. Proceeds from the sale of some of the items went to purchase a racecar and trailer. 

The victim was given the opportunity to speak at Wilson’s sentencing and told the court that Lake County needs a bigger jail to ensure the law enforcement system can be tough on criminals. “Citizens are sick and tired” of crime, the victim said. 

Wilson’s sentence, from the Lake County judge, will run consecutively with a six-year commitment to the Department of Corrections (four years suspended) in Flathead County for identity theft. All three men are facing charges in other jurisdictions. 

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