BUTTE (AP) — A Montana newspaper checking court records found seven misdemeanor DUI citations that a city judge hid from the public by attaching notes that said, "Keep out of the paper for security reasons."
The Montana Standard in a story (http://bit.ly/ymatkf) published Sunday reported the seven tickets date between May 21, 2009, and Oct. 14, 2010.
The notes were from 53-year-old Stephen Joseph Kambich, who in mid-December resigned from his job as a Butte city judge, a post he held since 2004. He pleaded guilty Jan. 13 to a federal bribery charge that involved taking bribes for dismissing traffic and other misdemeanor tickets.
"I don't know what that means (security reasons)," Butte-Silver Bow County Attorney Eileen Joyce told the newspaper. "It should be public."
It's unclear if the seven tickets the newspaper found are connected to the bribery case. Kambich withheld the misdemeanor DUI citations from the public after offenders pleaded guilty.
Kambich did not return calls to the newspaper. He could not be reached Sunday by The Associated Press.
The newspaper publishes names of misdemeanor DUI offenders partly because of concern in the community over drinking and driving and underage drinking. The newspaper in the story Sunday published the names of the seven people named in the hidden DUI citations.
The newspaper surmised that the tickets had been kept from the paper through some unknown means, and then at a later date filed deep in the system where they could not be easily found unless they were specifically sought.
The tickets appeared to be properly processed, said Samm Cox, chief assistant deputy county attorney. Cox agreed with Joyce that there are no security reasons for keeping such tickets out of the public record.
"It looks like he was just trying to keep them out of the paper," Cox said.