A damaged Express Mail package led to the arrest of a former Montana State University-Northern basketball player on drug charges.
According to legal papers filed in Havre City Court, Havre Post Office officials told Tri-Agency Drug Task Force officers that they saw something that looked and smelled like marijuana in the package that was sent from California to the Havre home of Joe Simpson, now a Northern admissions specialist.
Simpson was arrested by Havre Police last Wednesday on charges of possession and an intent to sell dangerous drugs.
“He is on administrative leave with pay,” said Northern’s Director of University Relations Jim Potter.
“The college is currently going to be conducting its own investigation. He won’t be out on the road for the college, at least at this point.”
Simpson was an inmate at the Hill County Detention Center through Saturday, according to information from an inmate population list from the detention center.
Legal papers filed in Havre City Court say the agent discovered that there have been five other packages mailed to Simpson’s home from similar addresses in California. The packages were sent via Express Mail so they had to be signed by someone to receive them. Simpson, as well as his roommates, signed off to receive the packages.
The packages all weighed around two pounds and were all sent between Sept. 21 and Oct. 21.
The officers, after acquiring a search warrant for Simpson’s house, found less than 60 grams of marijuana, $10,872 in U.S. currency, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, marijuana pipes in Simpson’s room, two small digital scales commonly used to break up large quantities of marijuana into smaller weights and a vacuum-sealing machine officers believe was used to seal bags of marijuana for shipment.
Officers confiscated both the large amount of cash and the pistol, which was found in Simpson’s room.
The package intercepted by the postal service was found to have multiple vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana in it after agents acquired a federal search warrant to search the package.
“(The agent) weighed the packages of marijuana from the packages and it had an aggregate weight of 35 ounces or 2.18 pounds,” the legal papers say.
Two bundles of cash, with $1,000 in each, were found in a smoke alarm mount in Simpson’s room. The rest of the cash was found in the attic, in a plastic grocery bag. The money was mainly comprised of $20 bills.
“(The agent) knows based on his experience in with (sic) the sale of marijuana thats weights of marijuana is commonly sold in $20 amounts for grams or $60 for 1/8 ounce amounts of marijuana which would explain the large amount of $20 bills located in the grocery bag,” the legal documents say.
The punishment for criminal possession with an intent to sell is up to 20 years of prison time and a fine of no more than $50,000.
The primary responsibility of an admissions specialist is to represent the university programs to possible students and their family and is mainly acting as a recruiter.
Simpson graduated from Northern in 2010, where he was a top player for the Lights basketball team. He was also the recipient of the NAIA Champion of Character award, which is given to student athletes who excel in five traits: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. He was also Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Simpson is originally from Pittsburg, Calif., where he went to high school before moving to Havre.