Ex-billionaire’s assets scrutinized by creditors
A federal bankruptcy judge has told a one-time billionaire real estate mogul to answer detailed questions about what happened to his fortune.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher on Monday ordered Yellowstone Club founder Tim Blixseth to immediately undergo a debtor’s exam as requested by Blixseth’s creditors.
But the judge closed the proceedings at Blixseth’s urging after an Associated Press reporter sought to attend the exam at the federal courthouse in Butte.
Also barred were lawyers from the Montana Department of Revenue, which is seeking $57 million in back taxes that officials say Blixseth owes.
The proceedings could reveal what happened to more than $200 million Blixseth diverted from the Yellowstone Club for his personal use before the Montana resort went bankrupt.
His attorneys say Blixseth’s fortune is now gone. Creditors say he’s hiding assets.
Senate, House top races in Montana elections
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republican Steve Daines is looking to capitalize on the Democrats having to switch candidates late in the campaign to win a U.S. Senate seat long-coveted by the GOP.
He faces Democrat Amanda Curtis and Libertarian Roger Roots in Tuesday’s election to replace Democratic U.S. Sen. John Walsh.
The House seat Daines is giving up after just one term appears to be a closer race, with both Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat John Lewis making their first run for federal office. Libertarian Mike Fellows is the third candidate in the race.
The two federal races top the ballot in an election in which voters also will be asked to decide two races for Montana Supreme Court, one for Public Service Commission, 125 legislative seats, multiple judgeships and two legislative referendums.
Butte woman charged with work comp fraud
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Butte woman is charged with felony theft of more than $16,000 in worker’s compensation benefits after filing what state officials say was a false claim.
Melody Collier pleaded not guilty in District Court in Helena on Thursday. The Independent Record reports a Feb. 3 trial date was set.
Prosecutors allege Collier tripped and fell at home in April 2013, but filed a claim with the Montana State Fund saying she heard her knee pop when she stepped down from a walk-in cooler while working at a sandwich shop. She suffered torn cartilage that required surgery.
Court records say Collier’s boss was suspicious of her claim because she did not report it right away. A few months later, a woman who rented a room to Collier told Collier’s boss and State Fund investigators that the fall happened at her residence.
Victim of Vaughn exit fatal identified
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A 30-year-old man who died in a one-vehicle crash on an Interstate 15 exit northwest of Great Falls lost his wife in a crash just over a month earlier.
The Montana Highway Patrol says the crash just after 2:30 a.m. Friday near Vaughn killed Derrick Charles Franklin. His passenger, 28-year-old Jessica Sejer, was injured.
The Great Falls Tribune reports Franklin’s wife, 31-year-old Minton Flanagan-Franklin, died in a one-vehicle crash on Sept. 20 near Sun River.
Her obituary says the couple was married in 2012 and had recently moved from Texas City, Texas, to Fort Shaw, where Flanagan-Franklin’s parents live. They are survived by two sons, ages 8 and 6 and a 1-year-old daughter.
2 killed in wrong-way crash in southeastern Idaho
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A wrong-way driver on Interstate 15 in southeastern Idaho has died after a head-on collision that also killed the driver of the other vehicle.
Idaho State Police say 29-year-old Cindy Nicholls of Rigby at about 4 a.m. on Sunday drove her 2005 Chrysler 300 south in the northbound lanes about 10 miles south of Idaho Falls.
Police say Nicholls collided with a 2012 Honda Accord driven by 67-year-old Jalene Evans of Idaho Falls.
Both Nicholls and Evans died at the scene.
Police say 79-year-old David Wendler of Wise River, Montana, drove his 2005 Dodge Ram pickup pulling a trailer with three cows off the road to avoid the other vehicles, causing the pickup to roll.
Wendler was transported by ambulance to a hospital. The cattle weren’t injured.
Grizzly acclimated to humans put down
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Wildlife managers in Wyoming have euthanized a young male grizzly bear that became habituated to humans.
The bear had been a favorite of Jackson Hole wildlife photographers for the past two years.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore supervisor Dan Thompson says people near the small town of Clark, which is north of Cody, had seen the bear in their yards.
Thompson says the grizzly had not gotten into trouble in Clark, but was all too comfortable around people and seemed to seek out houses and other structures.
Thompson says wildlife managers had twice relocated the bear before in an attempt to keep it away from developed areas.
He tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that all options for keeping the bear alive were exhausted.
Cleveland Cavaliers sign Will Cherry
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed former Montana guard Will Cherry.
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin announced the signing on Sunday, making Cherry the 15th player on a roster that includes LeBron James and Kevin Love.
Cherry played for the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers NBA Developmental League team, last year. He averaged 11.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 30 minutes of play.
He played for the Cavaliers during the NBA Summer League and averaged 12.8 points, four rebounds and three assists in five games in Las Vegas. He twice scored 21 points. In one game he scored 14 fourth-quarter points to help Cleveland to an 82-70 win over San Antonio.
Cherry played five pre-season games with the Toronto Raptors before being waived.
The Oakland, California, native played at Montana from 2009-2013, helping the Grizzlies advance to the NCAA tournament three times in four seasons.