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Counterfeit investigation leads to meth charge

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A St. Ignatius man is accused of being in possession of methamphetamine when he was questioned about allegedly trying to pass counterfeit money. Charles Henry Zeiler, 44, entered a plea of not guilty at District Court in Polson on April 28 to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs.

According to court records, on Sept. 8, 2020, police in Ronan responded to a report of a man attempting to use a counterfeit $50 bill at a gas station. About 10-minutes later, a call came in regarding a man who attempted to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a hardware store in Ronan. 

A witness at the hardware store told the responding officer that the suspect had just left in a gold-colored Hyundai. The officer later located the gold Hyundai at a used car lot. 

The officer checked the records with dispatch and confirmed that Zeiler was the registered owner of the Hyundai, but Zeiler left the scene in a different vehicle before the confirmation could be made. Zeiler was later located at a tire shop on U. S. Highway 93 and detained for questioning. 

The officer conducted a routine pat-down on the suspect and located a small baggie of suspected methamphetamine inside a cigarette pack in Zeiler’s shirt pocket.

Prosecutor James Lapotka said he didn’t charge Zeiler for attempting to pass the counterfeit bills because he never actually used them.

Judge James Manley set the drug possession case for trial on Oct. 18.

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