July 2 Montana News Briefs

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Former Bozeman employee sentenced for embezzlement

BOZEMAN (AP) — A former Bozeman employee has been given a three-year deferred sentence for embezzling from the city and a business organization. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Jessica Johnson was sentenced Friday and must complete 40 hours of community service. She paid the city and the Downtown Bozeman Partnership more than $6,000 before she was sentenced. Prosecutors say Johnson stole thousands of dollars by using the city manager's credit card for personal expenses, including an Amazon Prime membership. She was the city's neighborhood coordinator from November 2015 to June 2016. Johnson, who pleaded guilty in May to the two counts of theft by embezzlement, said in court she has made continuous efforts to improve herself since moving to Mississippi about a year ago.

Montana man pleads guilty to strangling woman to death

BILLINGS (AP) — A man has acknowledged strangling a woman to death with a rope at their home in southern Montana. U.S. Department of Justice officials say 35-year-old Randy Littlebird, of Birney, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder, strangulation and domestic abuse by a habitual offender. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 6. Bureau of Indian Affairs police went to Littlebird's home Feb. 4, 2018, and found the woman dead with a bloody nose and a rope on the floor nearby. Investigators say Littlebird told them the woman killed herself, but he later confessed to strangling her. Another person in the home recounted hearing a confrontation between the two and the victim yell, "No Randy, don't, don't," then a scream, followed by silence. He faces up to life in prison.

Yellowstone park nonprofit has $4.3M in debt

BOZEMAN (AP) — A nonprofit foundation that raises money for projects in Yellowstone National Park has about $4.35 million in debt. John Walda, interim CEO of Yellowstone Forever, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle the organization made faulty revenue projections when it was formed by combining the Yellowstone Association and the Yellowstone Park Foundation in 2016. Yellowstone Forever invested in staff, buildings and technology based on the inaccurate projections. Yellowstone Forever has provided $18 million to the park for projects but will reduce its cash support and hold some jobs open as it works to get back on better financial footing. There have been layoffs and several employees have resigned, including CEO Heather White last month. Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly says park officials will work with Yellowstone Forever to prioritize projects while the organization improves its financial picture.