July 1 Montana News Briefs

Monday, July 1, 2019

Montana State Prison adding sex offender treatment

BUTTE (AP) — The Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge is expanding its sex-offender treatment program. Department of Corrections officials say the prison is ending an intensive chemical dependency program that opened a year ago because those services are available elsewhere. It will use the 56-bed residential facility on the prison campus for sex-offender treatment. The 2017 Legislature allowed the prison to eliminate its boot camp program and add more chemical dependency treatment. This year, lawmakers authorized the move to sexoffender treatment. Democratic Rep. Ryan Lynch of Butte told The Montana Standard that giving sex offenders dedicated treatment space will help them change their thinking and behavior as they prepare for release. Inmates convicted of sex crimes are often required to complete some level of sex-offender treatment before they are eligible for parole.

Democrat Shane Morigeau enters race for Montana auditor

MISSOULA (AP) — A Democrat has entered the race to become Montana’s state auditor. State Rep. Shane Morigeau (Mor’-joh) of Missoula announced his candidacy in a video Sunday. He joins Republican Troy Downing in the race to replace current Matt Rosendale, who is running for Congress. If elected, Morigeau said he would work to ensure that health insurance is affordable, protect consumers from fraud and provide regulatory certainty for businesses. The 34-yearold also said he would use his seat on the state Land Board to keep public lands public. Morigeau is originally from Ronan and is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. He is a lawyer who has served in the state legislature since 2017. Auditor is one of three statewide offices that Republicans took from Democrats in 2016.

Judge sends 2 to prison for meth trafficking in Billings

BILLINGS (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a Denver man to more than 20 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to armed drug trafficking charges in Montana. U.S. District Judge Susan Watters sentenced Nathan Thomas Trujillo during a Thursday hearing in Billings. Prosecutors say Trujillo used a stolen identity and traveled back and forth to Denver to obtain methamphetamine by the pound and sell it around Billings. He was arrested last September and later pleaded guilty to drug distribution charges and possession of a firearm during drug trafficking. In a separate meth trafficking case in the Billings area, Watters on Wednesday sentenced Ashley Dawn Chesmore to four years in prison after she pleaded guilty to drug distribution charges. Prosecutors say Chesmore received meth in parcels shipped by mail.

Shells from invasive Asian clams found in Montana lake

BILLINGS (AP) — Montana wildlife officials say evidence of an invasive clam that can out-compete native species has been found for the first time in a state waterbody. Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say Asian clam shells were recently found near the boat ramp at Lake Elmo State Park in Billings. The discovery was made by participants in a training session on the detection of aquatic invasive species. No live clams were found. The quarter-sized mollusks are smaller than native clams that live in Montana. In large enough numbers officials say they can clog screens on irrigation pumps or other water intakes. Since being discovered in Washington state’s Columbia River in 1938 Asian clams have spread to almost every state.

Federal officials to review convicted doctor’s pension

BILLINGS (AP) — U.S. officials are investigating whether to revoke the honorable discharge of a former Indian Health Service pediatrician convicted of molesting children on Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The Billings Gazette reports that Stanley Patrick Weber could lose more than $100,000 a year in retirement benefits depending on the results of the inquiry announced Wednesday by the U.S. Public Health Commission Corps. The investigation comes after U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana asked Health Secretary Alex Azar to change Weber’s retirement with benefits. Daines says a pedophile should not receive a government pension. Weber was convicted in January of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and attempted aggravated sexual abuse from his time working at the Blackfeet reservation between 1993 and 1995. The 20-year IHS pediatrician faces separate child abuse charges at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

2 Montana regents pay back state after ‘embarrassing’ audit

MISSOULA (AP) — At least two members of the Montana Board of Regents have reimbursed the state after an audit found the Commissioner of Higher Education’s office overspent on hotels, travel and meals. The Missoulian reports regents Bob Nystuen and Casey Lozar paid for second-night hotel stays after a 2018 board meeting held before the Montana-Montana State rivalry football game. Those were among the expenses legislative auditors found were an abuse of state resources. At least one lawmaker has described the audit’s findings as embarrassing. Commissioner Clayton Christian says he is calling on everyone to be efficient and effective with state resources. Auditors say Christian took a chartered flight from Helena to Glasgow and also flew from Missoula to Billings, at a total cost of nearly $5,000 over the most economical mode of travel.