Darn that dome light!

It started out as a supposed “Oops – wrong truck” episode, and ended up with an arrest for felony theft.

On Sept. 10 at 5 a.m., a woman who worked by the Flying J Truck Stop in Belgrade parked her truck and went inside for a moment.

A few minutes later, she noticed her dome light was on and a woman she didn’t know was rummaging around in her truck. She confronted the woman. The stranger apologized, said she was in the wrong vehicle, and got into a car at the gas pumps.

The truck owner called Belgrade police, who discovered the car the stranger got into had been reported stolen in Billings.

That vehicle’s occupants gave the cops phony names. Eventually they were identified as Jeffrey Ryan O’Keefe and Ashley Drakeford. O’Keefe said he had permission from the owner’s husband to take the car, which the owner and her husband refuted.

Since O’Keefe is on probation out of Billings and not supposed to leave town, he was taken to jail. More charges were pending.

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A Belgrade man, 30, was arrested Sept. 9 for assault on a minor. The child told police he had felt sick but didn’t want to throw up. The child said the defendant became angry that he hadn’t thrown up and dragged him by one leg off the couch and to the bathroom, where he shoved the youngster’s head into the toilet and his fingers down the victim’s throat to make him puke. Instead, he was bitten. The episode was verified by another person in the house.

The defendant told a different story, saying that because the victim had been sick for a couple of days, he picked him up and carried him to the bathroom so he could throw up.

The defendant was arrested for domestic assault..

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Same song second verse:

A deputy sheriff reported to a possible “violation of a no-contact order” and found Steven Joseph Barnes III, 39, a Three Forks resident, at a Three Forks address that he was barred by court order from approaching closer than 300 feet. Barnes said he was unaware of such an order; the deputy showed him the form, which included Barnes’ signature. He was arrested and held without bond.

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A Manhattan man was arrested for breaking his neighbors’ car windows with a shovel.

According to the report, a sheriff’s deputy responded to the address at 8 p.m. and observed Keith James Fortune, 25, crouched and running toward a vehicle. He got into the vehicle and couldn’t get it started. He was ordered to get out of the vehicle five times before he complied. He had been drinking, according to a witness, “got out of hand and started breaking the windows,” and dented the driver’s side door. Fortune was arrested for criminal mischief.

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The Ford F150 in the ditch was a clue.

Lindsay Pearl Yenter, 31 of Belgrade, was arrested Sept. 8 for second-offense DUI after running her truck into a ditch on Penwell Bridge Road. She told the Montana Highway Patrol officer she had slowed to let a vehicle pass her and slid into the ditch. Two different tests showed her breath alcohol content 0.154 and 0.131, over the legal limit of 0.08. She had a previous DUI in June 2019.


Third time’s the charm:

This time, it started when John Roger Campbell, of the Four Corners area, called the sheriff to report that his sister was beating him up. (In the last month this address has repeatedly shown up in the Belgrade News cop reports).

When the deputy arrived, Bozeman police officers were already on the scene. According to witnesses, Campbell was the instigator and had been using a lot of words the Belgrade News still doesn’t print. After interviewing everyone, it was determined that there was no probable cause to charge anyone with assault.

The deputy was standing on the porch ready to leave when he heard banging inside the house: Campbell was punching holes in the wall, and again yelling profanities at his housemates. A records check showed that he had two recent arrests for disorderly conduct; he was then given his third.


Belgrade residents Jeremy Lee Williams, 34, and Connor James White, 24, were both served with bench warrants on Sept. 9. Williams’ offense included driving while revoked, and White’s included second-offense DUI, driving with a revoked license, and four separate contempt charges.


A probation hold was served on Tiffany Johnson-Saks, 46, of Three Forks, for “failure to comply.” She “aggressively head-butted the window of the patrol car during the transport and screamed obscenities throughout the transport.”


The fourth time’s the charm:

On Sept. 9, a Belgrade police officer pulled over a silver Chevy truck traveling north on Jackrabbit Lane and weaving back and forth, drifting, and crossing the yellow line. William Edward Ferguson III was pulled over for suspected drunk driving and flunked his field sobriety tests. He refused a breathalyzer test, stating that he would probably blow over the legal limit, which “would put me in a pickle.” Ferguson, 34, was charged with fourth-offense DUI.


More of the same:

This time, Cameron Alexander Hammond, 30, was driving his silver Chevy SUV southbound on Jackrabbit Lane and East Cameron Bridge Road, weaving in the lane, and finally driving down the middle of the road. He was stopped at 10 p.m. on Sept. 10. According to the deputy’s report, when asked for his driver’s license, Hammond handed the deputy his banking debit card. He told the officer he had consumed only had one beer earlier in the day at lunch, but he flunked his field sobriety tests. He eventually gave a breath sample, which registered a 0.175 breath alcohol content. He was arrested for third-offense DUI.


But she hit me first:

Jory Johnathan Bashor, 29, of Belgrade was charged with a domestic assault. A woman who had been beaten by Bashor went to the home of her neighbor, who called the Belgrade police. The police found Bashor hiding at his father’s address.

He explained the incident: “She hit me in the face, I hit her back, oops.” The officer noted that Bashor was significantly taller and bigger than the victim, and that he had significant offensive injuries to his knuckles.

By 6 p.m., the officer was interviewing the victim at the hospital. She said Bashor slapped her and started hitting her as they drove, and that she had had enough and hit him once to show him how it felt. He then punched her in the face six or seven times with a closed fist.

The report stated the victim had “obvious injuries to her face ... a major laceration under her right eye, and would need multiple stitches.’

He was held without bond.


Don’t bring a baseball bat to a gun fight:

A Sept. 11 “disturbance call” in Three Forks started with a man confronting a neighbor after he saw him on his security video sneaking into his home. The neighbor, Eric Lee Herrera, 53, got upset and started fighting the neighbor, who already had begun filming the episode on his phone. Herrera left and came back with a baseball bat; the neighbor took his .357 Smith and Wesson from his vehicle, and Herrera skedaddled.

According to court records, Herrera came back later, when both a Montana Highway Patrol officer and a Gallatin County deputy were on the scene. He appeared to have been drinking and said he had been beaten by the other party. A viewing of the cellphone video showed his account to be false. He was arrested for assault.


A report of a wrong-way driver on East Valley Center Road Monday night resulted in a 38-year-old Big Sky man being charged with aggravated first-offense DUI and driving without a license near Belgrade.

Belgrade police and the Montana Highway Patrol responded to the report at 8:15 Monday evening and stopped German Geovanny Suazo after he turned into the Knife River gravel pit entrance off South Alaska Road. Suazo failed field sobriety tests then blew a 0.186 on the breathalyzer.


A mellow fellow …

An apparently intoxicated but polite Townsend man who admitted to drinking whisky and being distracted by his cell phone had to be extracted from his vehicle after being involved in a two-vehicle injury crash on Interstate 90 near Three Forks early Tuesday morning.

According to a Highway Patrol trooper’s report, Sean Allen Geisser, 38, was traveling on I-90 eastbound when the crash occurred at mile marker 280 at about 2 a.m. Though he appeared to be intoxicated and smelled of marijuana, investigators were unable to conduct field sobriety tests because Geisser was trapped in his car and had to be extracted by fire crews.

The report states that Geisser had an open container of beer and an open bottle of Jim Beam whisky in the car and a pipe filled with marijuana in his pocket.

Geisser was taken to the county jail and charged with negligent vehicular assault and unlawful possession of an open container. He was served with an outstanding warrant for partner or family member assault out of Lewis & Clark County.


… and a not-so-mellow gal

Belgrade police responded to the scene of a two-vehicle crash on Jackrabbit Lane and Donjo Avenue shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday. They were pre-warned by dispatch that one of the drivers was reportedly yelling, screaming, “flipping people off,” and had thrown a phone at someone.

Once on the scene, a responding officer interviewed the occupants of a vehicle that had been rear-ended by Schlegel’s Subaru as they traveling northbound on Jackrabbit. The driver said he believed the Subaru had been traveling at a high rate of speed in the passing lane then merged into the driving lane behind him after he turned onto Jackrabbit. The officer noted significant damage to the Subaru, indicating that it had been traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of crash, the report said.

The rear-ended driver said he had attempted to communicate with the other driver, Madeline Schlegel, 27, of Belgrade. Schlegel refused to provide him with her insurance information and offered to pay him money instead. When he informed her he was going to call the police, Schlegel threw her phone at him twice, striking him in the head, before she fled on foot.

Schlegel’s boyfriend told officers she had called him and told him she was “going to prison.”

The officer found Schlegel hiding in a shed a short distance from the crash site. According to his report, she was uncooperative, refused to identify herself, and threw a shoe at him. When officers attempted to detain her, she physically resisted and attempted to kick and hit the officer. As she continued to thrash and fight, she was placed in handcuffs and a WRAP restraint. She continued to scream, cry, and be belligerent, leading the officer to believe she was intoxicated.

Schlegel was sedated by medical personnel so she could be evaluated and a blood sample could be obtained.

A records check revealed that Schlegel had been previously convicted of driving under the influence four times. She was booked into the county jail and charged with fifth-offense DUI. Further charges of negligent vehicular assault, assault, disorderly conduct, obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest, and driving while suspended were pending.

Editor Diana Setterberg contributed to this report.