Montana Sheriff Is Suspended Pending Felony and Misdemeanor Charges
HELENA – September 12, 2018
Madison county sheriff Roger Thompson has been suspended for three months by state commissioners after he received felony and misdemeanor charges, local media reports.
The state commissioners made the move on a 3-0 vote, it’s noted that Thompson voluntarily accepted suspension.
Thompson must now return his county issued firearms and vehicle. Undersheriff Phil Fortner will assume sheriff's duties pending resolution of the criminal case. Thompson was undersheriff in Madison County for several years before he was elected sheriff in 2014 following the retirement of David Schenk. Thompson was unopposed that year and he is the lone candidate for sheriff in November.
"As you all are aware, allegations have been made against me," Thompson said in his defense. "As your duly elected sheriff for the last three years and a sworn law enforcement officer for over 30 years, I pride myself on my character and sense of integrity…”.
The charges followed an investigation by the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation into a controlled drug purchase organized by Thompson’s office in June 2017. According to the documents presented, 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.
Right after the informant met with police 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 illegal drugs purchased from Walsh were then given to Thompson who allegedly said he would enter them into evidence. Yet, 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", according to the prosecutor's version of events.