Mar. 16 Montana News Briefs

Man gets deferred sentence for friend’s death in crash

BOZEMAN (AP) — A Montana judge issued a six-year deferred sentence for a man who crashed his car while speeding, killing his 17-year-old passenger. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the sentence handed down Wednesday requires 19-year-old Jacob Burroughs to participate in the Gallatin County Re-entry Program and in any chemical dependency treatment or counseling programs recommend by his probation officer. Burroughs, of Bozeman, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in January for the September 2016 death of Joseph Carnefix. In a statement to the court, Burroughs apologized to Carnefix’s family “for all the grief and suffering I caused to them.” Prosecutor Eric Kitzmiller says the case reach an appropriate outcome. Burroughs was also sentenced to probation, which will run concurrently, for unrelated burglary and theft charges.

Music teacher pleads not guilty to sexual assault

MISSOULA (AP) — A Montana high school music teacher has pleaded not guilty to fondling and other inappropriate touching of two female students. The Missoulian reports Frenchtown teacher Troy Bashor entered his not guilty plea Wednesday to felony and misdemeanor counts of sexual assault. Prosecutors say the felony charge stems from inappropriate contact that Bashor had with a student that spanned from the summer of 2014 to early 2017. The girl reported contact that escalated from hugging to groping. Prosecutors say the misdemeanor charge is from fondling and attempting to kiss a different student in 2016. Bashor remains released on conditions that include no contact with minors. Bashor has been on paid leave from the Frenchtown School District since the misdemeanor charge was filed in October.

Former tribal officer guilty of stealing drugs from evidence

GREAT FALLS (AP) — A former Fort Peck tribal police officer has pleaded guilty to stealing drugs and money from the tribe’s drug investigations office, compromising more than two dozen criminal cases. The Great Falls Tribune reports 33-year-old Mikkel Derrick Shields entered his plea Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls. Sentencing on the burglary charge is set for June 14. Court records say Shields was working for the Fort Peck Tribal Police in September 2017 when he broke into the Fort Peck Tribal Law and Justice Building and used a crowbar to get into the drug investigations office where he took opiates, methamphetamine and cash. The break-in was captured on surveillance video. Federal prosecutors say as a result of Shields’ actions, the tribe was forced to dismiss 27 criminal cases.

Skeletal remains belong to Native American woman

BILLINGS (AP) — An investigation shows skeletal remains found by a central Montana landowner last year likely belong to a Native American woman. The remains were found near Winifred in November. Fergus County Coroner Dick Brown says they’d been there for many, many years. The Billings Gazette reports the remains were sent to the state crime lab and forwarded to the University of Montana’s Department of Anthropology. The department’s report said the remains likely belong to a Native American woman who died between the ages of 19 and 29. The bones were exposed in an outcropping of rocks. Brown said they could have been buried and became exposed over time. Brown is working with the Montana Burial Preservation Board, which will try to identify which group or Native American tribe will bury the remains.

Bitcoin mining company begins operations in Butte

BUTTE (AP) — A company created to mine for the digital currency bitcoin has begun operation at facility in western Montana. The Montana Standard reports CryptoWatt LLC activated about 2,000 computer servers at the former Mike Mansfield Advanced Technology Center south of Butte Wednesday. Company representative Matt Vincent says the initial work is a pilot project, and the company expects to launch a larger-capacity operation in April or May. Bitcoin is a decentralized currency created and exchanged outside of banks and governments. Users mine bitcoin by lending computing power for verifying other users’ transactions. They receive bitcoins in exchange. Vincent says the company expects to be able to mine between 10 and 15 other digital currencies in the future. The company expects to hire 50 full-time employees when the facility becomes fully operational.