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DEER LODGE — A Deer Lodge woman recently pleaded guilty in district court to felony charges of burglary and theft for stealing a person's debit card and draining the account.

LaDonna Jean West, 44, admitted that she and Luke "Lukey’" Ray went into a local residence with the intent to deceive the resident. West said she visited with the woman while Ray took her debit card, which they used to get money from her account at the bank’s ATM machine.

According to court records, after taking the elderly woman’s debit card they would “go to get a pop,” take money from the ATM, return to the house and replace the card, then would split the money.

The victim’s bank records indicate West and Ray stole in excess of $2,200 between June 1 and Sept. 1, 2016.

The record states the woman called the bank when she learned her account was empty. Cameras at the ATM identified West and Ray withdrawing money at the time money was taken from her account.

A Deer Lodge police officer contacted West and Ray, but they failed to keep the appointment. The victim told police they called her wanting to know what was going on. She was afraid they would leave town so she went looking for them and used her car to block them at their residence until police arrived, according to court documents.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered and West is free on her own recognizance pending sentencing. Charges have been filed against Ray, but he has not yet made an initial appearance.

In other recent court proceedings:

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  • An Avon man pleaded guilty in Deer Lodge district court recently to criminal endangerment, a felony.

Jerry Walter Brander, 57, admitted he is an alcoholic and was in a motor vehicle with alcohol and drank alcohol knowing it put everyone he met in danger.

According to court records, on the afternoon of April 24, 2016 a Montana Highway Patrol officer saw a blue half-ton pickup in Elliston that matched an earlier attempt to locate report out of Helena. The officer saw Brander sitting in the truck with the key in the ignition. When Brander got out of the vehicle he was unsteady on his feet and smelled of alcohol, and had a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. There was a case of beer in the pickup and Brander had a small amount of marijuana in his pocket.

Judge Ray Dayton ordered a pre-sentence investigation, and Brander is free on $25,000 bond.

  • A Kalispell woman pleaded not guilty to forgery, theft and identification theft. Jennifer Don Smith, 32, is charged with stealing a checkbook, wallet, driver’s license and Social Security card from the home of a Deer Lodge man on May 6, 2016, and then writing checks totally $613.78 by forging his name. Because she is already under supervision of the adult probation and parole bureau for crimes in another jurisdiction, Judge Ray Dayton freed Smith on her own recognizance with conditions.
  • Frances Paull Nimmo, 59, of Deer Lodge pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of partner/family member assault and driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08.

Nimmo said she was under stress having her daughter and grandchildren living with her and admitted pushing her 13-year-old granddaughter against the wall, causing her to fear bodily injury. She said after the incident she got into her truck and left although she had been drinking.

According to court records, police responded to a report of the incident on Sept. 22, 2016. As the officer was getting ready to leave, Nimmo returned to the home, driving her vehicle into the garage. She was arrested for the assault and cited for having a BAC of .168.

Nimmo was sentenced on the first offense assault charge to six months in jail, all suspended, fined $100 and $75 in court fees. For the per se BAC she was sentenced to 24 hours in jail, fined $600 and $65 in court fees. Her driver’s license was suspended for six months, although she may apply for a probationary license, and must attend an alcohol awareness class. The sentences will run concurrently, she was given credit for 24 hours served and will be under supervision of a probation officer.

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