Tribal official goes to trial over contaminated water probe
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The former head of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s water department is going to trial over allegations that he lied to federal authorities investigating a contaminated drinking water tank.
Jonathan Jay Eagleman has pleaded not guilty to making false statements to a federal agency. He demanded a jury trial, which is scheduled to get underway Monday.
Federal prosecutors say a tribal water department employee found wooden boards, concrete and animal feces had been thrown into the tank on Aug. 30, 2012.
The department did not notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as is required whenever a drinking water source is compromised. The tank was shut down, but the existing water remained in the system for nearly a month.
Prosecutors say Eagleman lied by telling EPA officials that the break-in was only discovered on Sept. 24.
Third person charged in woman’s death on Crow reservation
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A third person has been charged in the death of a woman who was beaten and burned on the Crow Indian Reservation.
The Billings Gazette reports Frank James Sanchez pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday, as did co-defendants Dimarzio Swade Sanchez and Angelica Jo Whiteman.
All three are charged with first-degree murder for the April 17 attack that left 28-year-old Roylynn Rides Horse with burns over 45 percent of her body. She died in a Salt Lake City hospital.
The indictment alleges that Rides Horse left a bar with the 18-year-old Dimarzio Sanchez, 23-year-old Whiteman and four others. Investigators say an argument ensued and Rides Horse was beaten and choked before being doused with gasoline and set on fire in a field east of Crow Agency.
Drone operator who flew over wildfire under investigation
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are considering criminal charges against the operator of a drone that hampered firefighting efforts during a wildfire near Billings.
The Billings Gazette reports that the unmanned aircraft had been seized after it interfered with firefighting aircraft on Friday. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder says the aircraft had to be grounded and the incident cost firefighters several hours of air support.
Authorities located the drone operator, who Linder says seemed to know he had been doing something illegal. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration says the man faces fines of up to $27,500 in addition to criminal prosecution.
The fire, which began Friday, quickly burned more than 2 square miles and was determined 90 percent contained Sunday. It destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of several others.
Helena man accused in shooting death sets jail cell on fire
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Helena man accused of fatally shooting another man has appeared before a judge for setting fire to his jail cell.
KTVH-TV reports Monday that Austin Kroll-McLaughlin told Justice of the Peace Mike Swingly that he lit the fire on Sunday.
Firefighters responded and put out the fire, which detention officer say was set with a paper clip and a battery.
Kroll-McLaughlin told the judge he had been experiencing mental distress. Swingly sentenced him to 10 days with five days suspended.
The 18-year-old Kroll-McLaughlin is charged with deliberate homicide for the shooting death of 20-year-old Ryan Eakin on July 7. He also is charged with tampering with evidence for trying to get rid of the gun.
He is awaiting arraignment.
Sheriff: Hiker collapses, dies in Stillwater County
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Stillwater County authorities say a hiker collapsed and died while hiking on a trail near the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.
Sheriff Cliff Brophy said in a statement Monday that 47-year-old Scott Marchant collapsed Saturday afternoon near the Mystic Lake area.
Other hikers stopped and attempted to resuscitate Marchant until a search and rescue team arrived and moved him to the trailhead.
Brophy did not say what caused Marchant’s death, and the sheriff did not immediately respond to a query Monday afternoon.
Appeals court blames founder for Montana club’s bankruptcy
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An appeals court has reversed a lower court’s ruling that reduced the damages owed by a former billionaire real estate mogul in the bankruptcy of a Montana resort for the ultrarich.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a previous determination that banking firm Credit Suisse was equally at fault in the 2008 bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky.
Credit Suisse loaned the ski and golf resort $375 million in 2005, knowing founder Tim Blixseth intended to take most for himself.
Attorneys for the club’s creditors said Monday that the ruling puts Blixseth on the hook for $286 million in damages.
Creditors’ trustee Brian Glasser says Blixseth is running out of options to delay payment. Blixseth could not be reached immediately for comment.