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DEER LODGE — Roger Lee Van Cleave pleaded not guilty in Powell County District Court to felony charges of possession of dangerous drugs — meth —and vehicular homicide while under the influence of drugs, as well as two misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to court records, Van Cleave was driving a pickup on Dec. 4, 2017 that crashed on Interstate 90 near mile marker 186. The three individuals in the pickup were not wearing seat belts and a female passenger was ejected and died. Van Cleave was air-flighted to St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula. Various drugs and drug paraphernalia were scattered on the ground and visible in the vehicle. Blood and urine tests found the presence of methamphetamine and THC, a marijuana compound, in Van Cleave's system.

He is free on own recognizance, with conditions, to allow him to care for his special-needs child.

Guilty plea in assault

In a plea agreement, Wade Martin Reistad of Butte pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault; originally he was charged with aggravated assault, a felony.

He admitted that on the evening of Aug. 10, 2017 he was at the Montana Bar and got into a fight with a man, causing serious injury (broken jaw) that required surgery.

Reistad was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended. He was ordered to pay restitution of $2,000;  $1,170.73 to a crime victim compensation fund; and $75 court fees. He also must comply with numerous conditions during the suspended sentence.

Sentence in theft, forgery

Jennifer Don Smith, 33, of Kalispell was sentenced for misdemeanor theft and identity theft and felony forgery by common scheme.

In January she admitted that in May 2016 she removed a checkbook and driver’s license from a Deer Lodge residence, and then forged the owner’s signature on a number of checks written to businesses in Powell, Silver Bow and Missoula Counties.

Smith was given a two-year DOC commitment, suspended on the felony charge, and two six-month terms in jail, suspended; all will run concurrent to each other. She is under the supervision of the Adult Probation and Parole Bureau, and must comply with chemical dependency treatment recommendations. Smith must pay $630 restitution and $280 court fees; she was given credit for 85 days served toward her $250 fine.

Drug, driving charges

Robert J. Berger, 45, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, pleaded guilty to felony charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute 127 grams of marijuana; criminal possession of dangerous drugs, meth; and misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of drugs.

According to court records Berger was arrested the night of July 24 after he had a vehicle accident south of Deer Lodge. He allegedly was returning to Lake Havasu City from Washington State where recreational marijuana use is legal, but it is not in Montana.

Berger was given a five-year DOC commitment on the first felony charge, a three-year DOC commitment on the second charge, and 6 months in jail on the DUI charge; all were suspended, but will run concurrently during which time he will be under the supervision of Adult Probation and Parole Bureau. He was fined $2,500, must pay $355 court fees, and was given credit for 105 days served toward the fines. He must complete a chemical dependency evaluation and follow recommendations, and his medical marijuana card was suspended while on probation.

Endangerment and assault

Jordan Mark Garrison, 25, of Deer Lodge was sentenced for criminal endangerment, a felony and two counts of misdemeanor partner/family member assault.

Sentencing followed a lengthy hearing that included testimony from his brother, father and probation officer who recommended inpatient treatment, and closed court testimony regarding the assault.

Judge Ray Dayton said he is responsible for the safety of the community, Garrison’s family and children, and could not release him without reports or testimony from his psychiatrist or therapists — which were not presented by the defense.

On the felony charge, Dayton committed Garrison to the Dept. of Corrections for 10 years with five suspended and credit for 236 days served; there was no fine and no restitution for medical bills was requested. He is to receive a new chemical dependency evaluation, mental health evaluation and anger management treatment, in addition to therapy he has already received.

Garrison was sentenced to one year in jail on each family member assault charge, all suspended with conditions, to run consecutive to the above sentence. He must pay a $400 fine and $220 in court fees.

Garrison admitted on March 31, 2017 that he got into a fight with his brother and stabbed him with a large knife, causing injury. He also pleaded nolo contendere to an amended charge of two counts of misdemeanor partner/family member assault. Nolo contendere is a guilty plea although a defendant does not admit to the criminal act.

Probation violations alleged

Marylou Ann Sarchet denied charges in a petition to revoke the deferral of a three-year sentence that she received on Nov. 24, 2015 for two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs.

She is charged with violating the conditions of her deferred sentence, including failure to report an accident, possession of meth, hydrocodone and paraphernalia, gambling, failure to maintain employment, curfew violation and failure to pay fines or fees.

Sarchet is free on her own recognizance pending further court proceedings.


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