Livestock board moves to tighten oversight over agency
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Board of Livestock is taking steps to tighten its oversight of the state’s livestock agency in the wake of financial problems and the resignation of its executive officer.
The board on Wednesday updated the Department of Livestock’s policies and procedures.
Chairman John Lehfeldt says several of the changes were made to ensure the board stays on top of the agency’s budget.
The board must now approve the agency’s proposed budget before it is sent to the governor’s office. Board members also will receive all correspondence that is addressed to it, not just the documents the agency’s staff decides warrants the board’s attention.
Lehfeldt says he expects to post a job listing this week to replace former executive officer Christian Mackay, who resigned last month after a year of budget shortfalls.
Ex-tribal lending leaders face new charges of fraud, bribery
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Two former leaders of an online lending company have pleaded not guilty to new criminal charges of defrauding the Chippewa Cree tribe, accepting bribes and evading their taxes.
The grand jury indictment against Neal Rosette and Billi Anne Morsette was made public Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
Rosette and Morsette used to run Plain Green LLC, the Chippewa Cree’s lucrative lending company. They also ran the tribe’s now-defunct lender, First American Capital Resources.
The indictment accuses Rosette and Morsette of conspiring to divert Plain Green revenue to a Nevada company that was a partner in First American.
Prosecutors say they then used shell companies to take some of that money for their personal benefit.
Rosette and Morsette have pleaded not guilty to a previous indictment accusing them of embezzling more than $55,000 from First American.
Court rejects Blackfeet consultant’s appeal of conviction
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A court has rejected the appeal of a Blackfeet tribal consultant who was convicted in a scheme to defraud a federally funded program for at-risk youths.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled an error in a jury instruction was not enough to overturn Gary Conti Jr.’s conviction.
The appellate court said Wednesday federal prosecutors presented “strong and convincing evidence” against Conti and there is no reasonable probability the error affected the case’s outcome.
Last year, Conti was sentenced to five years in prison after a jury found him guilty on 29 criminal counts.
Conti was convicted of bankruptcy fraud and of kicking back money he received as a consultant to two Po’Ka Project leaders, who were convicted of stealing from the program and falsifying invoices.
Juneau considering challenging Zinke for US House seat
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A spokeswoman for Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau says the Democrat is considering challenging U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke for Montana’s U.S. House seat next year.
Spokeswoman Emilie Ritter Saunders says Juneau sees an opportunity to bring a Montana work ethic and her record of getting things done to the House.
Saunders says it is a big decision for Juneau and she has set no deadlines for making it.
Zinke is a first-term Republican from Whitefish. Nobody has yet filed as a candidate against him.
The 48-year-old Juneau has been the state’s public schools superintendent since 2009. She is the first female Native American elected to statewide office in Montana.
Term limits prevent her from running again for superintendent.
Zinke to support Paul Ryan as House speaker
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke says he’ll support U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as the next Speaker of the House.
Earlier this month, the Whitefish Republican said he was considering running for the position should Ryan decline.
On Tuesday, Ryan said he would run to succeed Rep. John Boehner (BAY’-ner) if he had undivided support from House Republicans by the end of the week. The Republican party is split between pragmatists and conservative hardliners who threatened to force a no-confidence vote in Boehner. The split eventually led to Boehner’s resignation.
The House is scheduled to elect a new speaker on Oct. 28.
Inquest underway in shooting death outside Billings hospital
(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A coroner’s inquest is underway in Billings in the January death of a man who was shot by several law enforcement officers who were trying to arrest him outside Billings Clinic.
Before his death, 48-year-old John Barry Marshall had been wanted by the U.S. Marshal’s violent offender task force. Officers said they received a tip he was at the hospital.
Police say when Marshall was approached by uniformed officers, he ran, tripped and a shot was fired into a hospital window. Marvin Dahl, lead investigator with the state Department of Criminal Investigation, says Marshall did not shoot at officers and no casings from his gun were found.
Officers fired multiple shots at Marshall, killing him.
The Billings Gazette reports jurors will hear more testimony Thursday and determine whether any criminal acts were involved in the death.
Man gets 50 years for fatal shooting at Bozeman house party
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A 27-year-old Iraq war veteran who shot a man to death during an argument outside a Bozeman house party has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Cody Little was sentenced Wednesday for the Sept. 20, 2013, death of 24-year-old Larry “LJ” Clayton. Little also shot James Armstrong, causing injuries that required the amputation of his lower left leg.
Defense attorneys argued that Little suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and his symptoms kicked in after he and a friend felt threatened by men at the party. But some witnesses testified that Little punched Armstrong in the face, ran to his apartment, retrieved a shotgun and fired three shots, two of them hitting Clayton and Armstrong.
Little was convicted of mitigated deliberate homicide and aggravated assault.
New trial date set for Butte homicide case after mistrial
(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A state judge has scheduled a Feb. 8 retrial for a 25-year-old man accused of beating his father to death in 2008.
Jurors deadlocked in Adam Hatfield’s first trial and District Judge Kurt Krueger declared a mistrial on April 16.
His retrial had been scheduled for Sept. 8, but his family hired a private attorney who asked for more time to prepare.
Prosecutors believe Hatfield killed 49-year-old Matt Hatfield with a baseball bat and then tried to burn the bat.
The case went cold until a grizzly bear researcher discovered a skull north of Butte in 2010. DNA testing matched it to blood found in Matt Hatfield’s cabin and on the bat.
The Montana Standard reports Hatfield has been jailed with his bail set at $500,000 since his arrest in 2014.
Woman pleads not guilty in attack on daycare owner
(Information in the following story is from: KERR-AM, http://www.750kerr.com/)
POLSON, Mont. (AP) — A Lake County woman has denied her alleged role in an attack on a northwestern Montana daycare worker.
KERR-AM reports 21-year-old Tashiana Schlensker pleaded not guilty Wednesday to assault with a weapon for the Oct. 7 attack on Martha McClure of Ronan.
Prosecutors say Schlensker hit McClure in the face with a snow shovel as she fought against 31-year-old Francis Jackson. Jackson had arrived at the daycare to take his three children even though he does not have legal custody of them.
Jackson is charged with aggravated burglary. His arraignment was continued until next week because his attorney was appointed on Tuesday and asked for more time to prepare.
District Judge James Manley set a March 14 trial date for Schlensker.
Jackson and Schlensker remain jailed in Lake County in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Longtime Griz broadcaster’s contract not renewed
POLSON, Mont. (AP) — The longtime voice of the Montana Grizzlies will no longer be calling games after this basketball season.
Mick Holien (HO-leen) told KERR-AM Wednesday that Learfield Sports did not renew his contract.
Learfield carries the rights to broadcast University of Montana athletics events. Holien says company officials told him they decided to go in another direction.
He says he’s had an amazing run and doesn’t hold any animosity.
Holien has been the play-by-play broadcaster for Griz sporting events for 31 years. This is his 23rd season broadcasting men’s football and basketball games.
Holien says his favorite memories include Montana winning the 1995 and 2001 football championships and the Lady Griz beating Wisconsin in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 1986.
Learfield spokeswoman Jennifer Duncan did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.