Suspended Madison County sheriff Roger Thompson pleaded not guilty to three separate charges in Lewis and Clark County District Court Thursday afternoon.
Thompson was charged with misdemeanor official misconduct and felony charges of tampering with evidence and perjury for his alleged role in removing methamphetamine from a crime scene in June 2017.
According to the charging documents, Thompson arranged a drug buy on June 11, 2017 between a confidential informant and Martin James Walsh, a Twin Bridges man who was sentenced this past August to 10 years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine.
When the confidential informant met with officers prior to the buy, he and his vehicle were searched. An initial search turned up no drugs but in a later one, officers found a Crown Royal bag containing a butane torch, a glass pipe and powder that later tested positive as meth.
Those items and heroin purchased from Walsh were then given to Thompson who allegedly said he would enter them into evidence. But in a search warrant application signed by Thompson and presented to District Court Judge Luke Berger the next day, Thompson wrote that the informant and his vehicle were "free of any drugs," prosecutors say.
Photos of the meth and pipe found on the informant were taken, but they were not in an evidence locker where they should have been and were not found in Thompson’s office, either.
Thompson had been suspended for three months with pay on Sept. 11 of this year and was required to turn in his county-issued firearm and vehicle.
Judge Kathy Seeley placed "standard" stipulations on Thompson as well, such as not leaving the state of Montana, not having possession of any drugs not prescribed to him and that he must be booked and released from Madison County's sheriff's office where fingerprints and a mugshot will be taken.
The next court date for the sheriff has not been set.