Aug. 30 Montana News Briefs

Friday, August 30, 2019

Montana pastor pleads guilty to stealing $288K from church

MISSOULA (AP) — A Montana pastor has been convicted of embezzling more than $288,000 from the United Pentecostal Church. The Missoulian reports Kenneth Hogue of Butte pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal wire fraud charge. Hogue was the former treasurer of the church’s Rocky Mountain District. He was responsible for depositing church offerings and writing checks for church expenses. Court documents say he wrote himself unauthorized checks, withdrew church money from an ATM and transferred funds into his account from 2012 to 2016. A $5,000 transfer alerted authorities to Hogue’s thieving. Hogue has agreed to pay back the money he siphoned. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in December. Hogue has worked as a pastor at the Grace and Truth Pentecostal church in Butte since 1982. The church did not return the newspaper’s call.

3 people dead in single-engine plane crash in Montana field

MISSOULA (AP) — Montana authorities say three people are dead as a result of a single-engine airplane crash. The Missoulian reports the three people were declared dead at the scene near St. Ignatius Thursday. Authorities did not immediately release the identities of the victims. Emergency services were alerted to the plane crash in a field around 4 p.m. Lake County Sheriff Don Bell says the plane is believed to have struck a large power line, which caused mechanical problems. Bell did not release information regarding the origin of the flight, but said it did not come from a local airport. Bell says Federal Aviation Administration officials were expected to arrive in the area Friday to take over the crash investigation. Lake County authorities also alerted the National Transportation Safety Board.

West Nile virus reported in 2 Montana people older than 60

BILLINGS (AP) — Montana health officials say West Nile virus has been reported in humans for the first time in the state this season. The Billings Gazette reports that the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services have announced two people older than 60 were hospitalized after contracting the disease in Custer and Lewis and Clark counties. The department says a pool of mosquitoes collected in Yellowstone, Cascade, Blaine, Valley, and Sheridan counties have also tested positive for the virus, including one horse-infected case in Lake County. Health officials say positive mosquito pools in seven counties, 51 human West Nile virus cases, one related death and 50 horse cases were reported last year. Officials say most people do not develop any symptoms, which can include fever, headache, body aches, and skin rash.

Wildfire prompts evacuations

BILLINGS (AP) — A fire burning in grass and shrubs northwest of Billings has led to the evacuation of about 15 residences near the community of Molt. Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services Director K.C. Williams tells KULR-TV the fire that started Wednesday had burned just over 4 square miles (11 square kilometers) by mid-day Thursday. The size was reduced from earlier estimates due to better mapping. Yellowstone County Commissioner Denis Pitman told The Billings Gazette that residents were watching the fire Wednesday evening when the wind changed direction, sending the flames toward homes and prompting the evacuations. No structures have been damaged and fire crews were protecting homes. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.