Charges dismissed due to questionable incident
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The trial of a Bigfork man, charged with tampering with witnesses and informants, ended after two days with the charges dismissed. The trial for Robert Earl Staudenmayer, 34, began Monday, Nov. 30, and ended on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Staudenmayer was accused of trying to entice his common-law wife to lie about an investigation into his involvement in the theft of approximately $1,000,000 in rare coins and other items from a storage unit in Bigfork. The items belonged to a man who served as a pilot during WWII.
Staudenmayer was charged with money laundering and theft for allegedly stealing the items and pawning them. He missed court appearances on those charges resulting in a bail jumping charge. He later pleaded guilty to money laundering and theft and was sentenced to 20 years in the Montana State Prison, and the conviction was overturned by the Montana Supreme Court on a technicality and sent back to District Court in Polson to be re-tried. That case is pending.
Staudenmayer took the bail jumping case to trial and was found guilty. In handing down the 10-year prison term on the bail jumping charge, Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher said this was Staudenmayer’s ninth felony conviction.
Prosecutor Ben Anciaux, with the Lake County Attorney’s Office, argued for the full 10 years calling Staudenmayer a master manipulator for getting his common-law wife to lie for him and getting a detention officer to provide him with a phone. The wife is facing a perjury charge and the detention officer served more than 50 days in the Missoula County jail for transferring illegal articles and official misconduct.
Christopher also ordered Staudenmayer to pay restitution of $6,171.85 for the cost of the jury trial.
Judge James Manley presided over the trial on the tampering charge and granted Anciaux’s motion to dismiss the charge. Anciaux said an “incident occurred outside the presence of the jury, causing the state to question the integrity of the state’s case” leaving him no other option but to motion to dismiss. The incident was not disclosed in court.
Staudenmayer remains in the Lake County jail with bail set at $250,000, as he awaits trial on the theft and money laundering charges.
There are two co-defendants in the theft and money laundering case. Richard Gordon, 51, was given 10 years with seven years suspended for theft and 10 years with seven years suspended for money laundering. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,038,035.
Joshua Wilson, 40, of Kalispell, was sentenced at District Court in Polson on Oct. 9 to the Montana State Prison for 10 years with six years suspended for one count of theft.