Montana Lawmaker Calls For Hearing On Lake County Allegations
POSTED: Apr 16 2012 08:26:15 AM MDT
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:51 am Jesse Davis/Northwest Montana News Network
Allegations of corruption and cover-ups within the Lake County Sheriff’s Office have caught the attention of Montana attorney general hopeful Jim Shockley, R-Victor, who is using his clout in the state Legislature to bring light to what is and isn’t being done to investigate.
Shockley, as a state senator and chairman of the Interim Law and Justice Committee, has scheduled a session on “Lake County Law Enforcement Issues” on April 20.
The Helena hearing is designed to hear from representatives of the Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council, the Office of the Attorney General, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Lake County Attorney’s Office.
According to letters sent on behalf of Shockley to those organizations, the committee hopes to learn more about the accusations of inadequate or falsified certification, poaching, and other potential criminal activity as well as investigations into those accusations, which were apparently turned over to Lake County Attorney Mitch Young when brought to the attention of the attorney general’s office.
The agenda item says the committee will address the “adequacy of the current statutes” for handling an accusation of public wrongdoing such as exists in Lake County.
Shockley, said he has known about the alleged situation in Lake County for a long time, since several officers visited him about a year ago to talk about it. At the time, POST Executive Director Wayne Ternes was just beginning his organization’s investigation into the Sheriff’s Office.
“When these allegations were made, we had an obligation not to do an investigation of what’s going on in Lake County, but to see if the agency itself is processing it right,” Shockley said. “So our concern was not what Sheriff [Jay] Doyle was or wasn’t doing or what County Attorney Mitch Young was or wasn’t doing, it was how the attorney general was handling the complaint because the people were interested.”
He said he also was getting numerous calls and emails discussing the issue or asking what was going on. Due to that contact and the then-ongoing investigation, Shockley set the April hearing. At that hearing, anybody who wants to testify will have that opportunity.
“The real concern of the committee is just how the attorney general handled this, and we don’t know until they come in and testify,” Shockley said. “And there’s no indication that they aren’t going to come in and make their case.”
However, Shockley has run into problems with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which initially had been very cooperative.
About a week ago, he heard rumors that no one from the organization was going to show up, so he contacted Director Joe Maurier. At the time, Maurier told Shockley that he was not familiar with the issue, so the senator gave Maurier a few days and called him back.
“He [Maurier] said, ‘We see no reason for [our representatives] to come,’” Shockley said. “I said, ‘You don’t understand, we’re supposed to be overseeing things and we ask people to come and look into it, and we make that determination’” of what is reasonable.
Shockley asked Maurier to talk to the agency’s lawyer and he would call him back. Maurier called him first.
“He said they weren’t going to show, said once again, we don’t think it’s necessary and you’re barking up the wrong tree,” Shockley said.
“I said, ‘Well the public knows about the tree, and if we’re barking up the wrong tree, the public wants to know it.’ The issue isn’t that we’re barking up the wrong tree, the issue is that there’s a tree.”
On Wednesday, Shockley left a message with Gov. Brian Schweitzer to talk to him about Maurier’s comments and his attempt to have a Fish, Wildlife and Parks representative at the hearing. He has not yet heard back from the governor.
An investigation by a Fish, Wildlife and Parks warden is one of the key elements of the allegations involving Lake County law enforcement.
Part of the problem, Shockley said, is that he has no power to subpoena the organization to provide a representative.
Due to the ambiguity and wording of the law, he only has that power as chairman of the Judiciary Committee while the Legislature is in session, not as head of the interim committee in between sessions.
Even with that distinction, the refusal to appear is the first of its kind Shockley has seen.
“I have never, ever had an agency not produce somebody,” he said. “I’ve been in seven sessions and I have never seen an agency fail to show.”
Shockley sees the refusal as a direct affront to the Legislature.
“This was going to blow through, we were going to look at what the attorney general’s procedures were. We weren’t going to pass on whether or not anybody had done anything wrong, we were just going to look at the procedure,” Shockley said.
“But now, you’ve escalated this, you’ve challenged the Legislature by refusing to produce somebody we ask, and you make it appear as though you’ve done something wrong when nobody had thought that before.”
It is yet unknown whether the issue will be resolved before the hearing next week or whether Fish, Wildlife and Parks will fulfill its promise not to send a representative.
The committee will consider Lake County law enforcement issues at 1:30 p.m. April 20 in Room 172 at the Montana Capitol building. It’s part of two days of meetings involving the Interim Law and Justice Committee.
To Read Source: http://www.flatheadnewsgroup.com/bigforkeagle/news/article_1c704f2e-897f-11e1-8fce-001a4bcf887a.html
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Reason –
Plaintiffs, from left to right: Ben Woods, Terry Leonard, Levi Read, Steve Kendley and Mike Gehl. – Photo courtesy of Terry Leonard
Montana Sheriff Sued for his Retaliation!
This news story merely shows that corruption in a Sheriff’s department does exist. We have been following stories about Northwest Sheriffs who stand tall for protecting the constitutional rights of their people, and this story shows another kind of Sheriff. Public officials are “only human”, and perhaps often suffer from moral and ethical deficiencies as they allow their “power” over others to cloud the humble and solemn expectations of those who elected them to office.
This story simply points out that Sheriffs, like judges and prosecutors and other officials, DO often violate the rights of others and wrongfully persecute and retaliate against those who would expose their misbehavior. And it is up to the people to demand correction of all such wrongs.
Photo illustration by Steve Larson/Flathead Beacon
According to a lengthy multi-agency investigation into allegedly pervasive illegal and unethical activities by Lake County law enforcement officers, the sheriff’s office is accused of fostering a “culture of corruption” that encourages the motto: “You can’t break the law, if you are the law.”State investigation documents obtained by the Beacon detail an array of allegations against the Lake County Sheriff’s Office spanning over a decade. Dozens of interviews, including sworn statements by current and former officers, describe an atmosphere of “misguided brotherhood” at the sheriff’s office in which deputies have allegedly engaged in poaching, assault on fellow officers, falsification of one deputy’s military history and a “cover-up” pertaining to a 2004 boating death on Flathead Lake, among other allegations.
- The room was full at the Law and Justice Committee for the segment of the hearing that concerned “Lake County,” citizens even flew in. There has been much concern over the corruption in Lake County besides just this one issue. “Lake County” was back again for the June Session of the Law and Justice Committee.
*We find this next article very odd that it comes in after the elections. June 11th, 2012. The Montana Attorney General’s Office not having to worry if Senator Jim Shockley was going to be the next Attorney General.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Cleared of Three Criminal Allegations
AG’s office issues conclusions; two other state agencies still have ongoing investigations
The Montana Attorney General’s Office has found that three separate allegations of illegal activity by current and former members of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, including the sheriff, have insufficient evidence for prosecution.Assistant Attorney General Brant Light issued three conclusions on May 31 following investigations by the state Department of Justice’s division of criminal investigation. The conclusions were sent to Lake County Attorney Mitch Young.There are still a number of open ongoing investigations into multiple Lake County law enforcement agencies by the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), as well as a multi-year poaching investigation conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.As of April, there were at least seven current and former officers spread out across four different Lake County departments facing POST hearings for alleged misconduct. The hearings could lead to the revocation of the officers’ law certifications. The investigations were the subject of an April 20 Law and Justice Interim Committee hearing in Helena.
Sheriff Jay Doyle issued a statement on June 11 in response to the attorney general office’s findings.
“I am simultaneously pleased that the Montana Attorney General’s Office has responded so clearly to these unfounded allegations and disappointed on behalf of taxpayers at how much public funds, employee time and other resources were diverted away from public safety and, instead, wasted on dealing with unfounded, unsustained allegations,” Doyle said.The Department of Justice announced it could not prove that former Deputy Patrick O’Connor illegally accessed Deputy Ben Woods’ computer and copied his files, as Woods had alleged. Light wrote that investigators ran into multiple “difficulties/obstacles,” including the 14-month window in which the crimes allegedly occurred and Woods’ conduct.Woods “surreptitiously recorded” Sheriff Doyle and Lt. Mike Sargeant on two separate occasions, according to Light’s conclusion. After speaking with Doyle, Light determined no charges would be filed against Woods for privacy in communications, “but that the matter should be handled administratively by the Sheriff’s Office.”
*Well there must have been a reason to have recorded them…..duh…to prove what he was saying. But of course our justice system has it that you cannot protect yourself that way. So, they could have pressed charges against him. Just those two paragraphs raises eyebrows. Something doesn’t smell right. Sounds like the regular message they give when they are protecting those in the departments and those with money.
To Read Article: http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/articles/articleJustice Department Announces Investigations of the Handling of Sexual Assault Allegations by the University of Montana, the Missoula, Mont., Police Department and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office/lake_county_sheriffs_office_cleared_of_three_criminal_allegations/28315
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Justice Department Announces Investigations of the Handling of Sexual Assault Allegations by the University of Montana, the Missoula, Mont., Police Department and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office
In Light of at Least 80 Reported Rapes in Missoula in the Past Three Years, the Justice Department Will Investigate Responses to Sexual Assault Allegations
MISSOULA, Mont. — The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the way Missoula police, prosecutors and the University of Montana have responded to reports of sexual assault and harassment after the agency learned of complaints that cases were not being properly handled.
The investigation was disclosed Tuesday after a preliminary examination conducted earlier this year concluded there was enough evidence to move ahead with a full probe, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said.
To Read Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/feds-examine-response-to-_0_n_1470286.html
Saturday, May 5, 2012
University of Montana has Ignored this Issue for 3 Years, Protected By Attorney General Steve Bullock, and the Missoula Police and Missoula County Attorney. This is a Hate Crime and has Been Going on for 3 years and counting. The Montana ACLU, Montana DOJ, Montana Governor Office, ALL Knew for Years About the Rampant Rapes in Montana and did NOTHING.
To Read Article: http://www.royceengstrom.com/2012/05/university-of-montana-has-ignored-this_05.html
Justice Department investigating 80 Missoula rapes; county attorney blasts feds
May 01, 2012 9:30 pm • By GWEN FLORIO of the Missoulian
To Read Article: http://missoulian.com/news/local/justice-department-investigating-missoula-rapes-county-attorney-blasts-feds/article_3958129e-93d3-11e1-8d01-001a4bcf887a.html
Well, I guess the US DOJ didn’t quite believe the Montana DOJ and the Missoula way of handling these issues. It seems that Montana cherry picks those that they are going to prosecute. There are many that have had allegations and charges were never forthcoming. Those they protect. Those in the state departments, those that work for the state, those that influence the state (such as football players) and those that have money. I don’t think that there were necessarily 80 rapes, as it was stated on here once before. I say definitely many were not properly investigated nor was anyone charged. You may ask why I would state such a thing. There is a young man right now that wanted to make a report with the police department and they will not allow him. They threatened him. This is in Missoula, despite all of this going on. Apparently they are not too worried about what the US DOJ is doing. I think it more or less just embarrassed them to have someone looking over their shoulder for the whole world to see. It is not stopping the corruption. No, Montana believes they are too above the law for that.
*The following I found interesting and thought I would share.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Its been a great pleasure to retire several high ranking officials, who believe their Old Boy ways are invincible. Retirement or resignation proved otherwise
Paul Grimstad—-25 year veteran of the Montana Highway Patrol. resigned 2007
[he refused to investigate a hit and run accident]
Darlene Staffeldt–Montana State Librarian retired 2011
[made conflicting statements about library policy, protected Bitterroot Public Library]
David Aronofsky Chief Counsel University of Montana retired 2012
[protected criminal acts of law student practicing law]
George Corn Ravalli Co. Attorney voted out of office 2010
[abided by no law]
Gloria Langstaff Director, Bitterroot Public Library retired 2010
[she had difficulty with charging patrons with crime on public property]
Ken Bell Hamilton City Attorney retired 2010
[refused to swear oath for 6 years, prosecuted trespassing on public property]
Stacey Mueller, Publisher Lee Enterprises Missoulian resigned 2011
[lied about a published article, and an encounter at a Lee Newspaper]
Randi Hood Chief Public Defender, State of Montana Office of Public Defender resigned 2011
[refused to answer written complaints, general lack of leadership]
I was always taught to stand up for what I believed. I believed that Montana officials were very corrupt. With a little bit of exposure, the right thing happens.
Now it is time to move on with my life.
*We do not know this person but as he is moving on with his life there are many more stepping into the gap of continuing to expose corruption in Montana. If this has happened during your time Michael Spreadbury and you exposed as much as I see all over the internet. Well done. Citizens if you look at Montana Corruption on the internet and look up Montana Counties it is flooded with pages and pages of documentation. That is scary!
English: Official photo of Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I-166 is in response to the Citizens United ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling; Montana is the only state to take a legal stand against that decision.
C.B. Pearson, the treasurer of the Stand With Montanans campaign, said, “People have an interest in Montana across the whole nation, the media, our readers, they are intrigued by us and so we can set the course of popular elections.”
Schweitzer said, The point is simple, this is our government and we are not going to allow any corporation to steal it from us.”
Seriously? ” We are not going to allow any corporation to steal from us?” Who is doing the stealing from Montanans right now? Where is the corruption coming from? It is apparently very clear that Montana bucks against the United States Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court is after all “just another political body” as stated by Attorney General Steve Bullock. That is kinda arrogant sounding, don’t you think? Maybe that is why Governor Brian Schweitzer backed off on the Unites States Supreme Court ruling on the new healthcare….if you remember in May of 2010……
- Asked how Montana has managed to squirrel away a $400 million surplus while 48 other states in the Union are all in the red, Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) told Morning Joe: “The reason we have money in the bank is we said ‘no’ to everybody that asked for it.” But what if somebody comes along who Schweitzer can’t say ‘no’ to?
- Last July Schweitzer called Medicaid “a system that isn’t working” and noted that through Obamacare Congress wanted “increase the number [of people] on Medicaid so they could do it for the cheap” costing his state hundreds of millions of dollars in matching funds. To their credit the hosts on Morning Joe pressed Schweitzer on whether Obamacare would bankrupt his state. At first he responded “It didn’t challenge the underlying costs of health care in this country” but then largely dodged the question. But after being pressed a third time about whether the state mandated spending in Obamacare would bankrupt his state, Schweitzer predicted: “[The spending] is kicked down the road. And if you believe that this bill is not going to change between now and ’17, ’18, and ’19, when a lot of this kicks in, then you are smoking your own belly button lint.”
Maybe he has changed his mind now and is not going to join the other states that are against it and the belly button lint. Which one is the real Governor Brian Schweitzer? Where does our Montana government really stand? It seems that they want to squirrel away all the money for themselves. “No” to corporations, “No” to needy Montanans, “No” to cleaning up the corruption in his state, “No” to real justice, “No” to those that are crying out to be heard….well actually…just as Senator Jim Shockley….we do not get a return phone call. Just a nice little form letter stating how it is not in his department. Same thing with Attorney General Steve Bullock, as other governors across the country are complaining that he did not return their phone call while they were waiting on him with the US Supreme Court. Seems like every state department has a form letter that passes these complaints off. We have lot’s of documented proof on that one. Montana are you going to keep believing this…or are you tired of the corruption? I don’t care which political party is in office but I do care when corruption is in office. Just on this one page there are more counties in Montana than just Lake County that is represented and they are all dealing with corruption. This is not a one time case in just one county. It is a decade of many counties all over the state. No one can call this isolated or there are just a few upset people that are making allegations. If someone states that, they would be lying, then again I do believe these people that believe the corruption is all false….MUST believe in Santa Clause too. How many complaints and documentation do you need to have Montana? It is not just this one article, read the whole website. It is overwhelming! Make your voice be heard!