November 26, 2013 |

Simpson denies drug charges

Omnibus hearing set for Dec. 23

A university recruiter and former standout athlete pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he was getting marijuana in the mail and planning to sell it in Havre.

Tim Leeds
Joe Simpson, left, and his attorney, Jeffry Olson, listen Monday in state District Court in Havre as charges against Simpson are read. Simpson pleaded not guilty to all charges, including attempted criminal possession with the intent to distribute drugs. Simpson, an employee of Montana State University-Northern and a former standout basketball player at the university, is accused of planning to sell marijuana mailed to him from California.

Montana State University-Northern admissions specialist Joe C. Simpson, born in 1990, pleaded not guilty in state District Court in Havre Monday to felony counts of attempted criminal possession of drugs with the intent to distribute and use or possession of property subject to forfeiture - a 9 mm Taurus handgun and about $13,000 in cash - and with misdemeanor counts of possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

District Judge Dan Boucher set an omnibus hearing, in which deadlines, hearings and a trial generally are scheduled, for Dec. 23.

At the request of Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl, over the objection of Simpson's attorney, Boucher also set a condition of Simpson's release on $50,000 bond that police could, with reasonable suspicion, search Simpson's person, vehicle or residence.

Attorney Jeffry Olson argued that Simpson was innocent until proven guilty and should be held to the same standards requiring a search warrant as anyone else.

Boucher ruled in favor of Dahl's argument that Montana law allows the setting of conditions of release, including for searches of defendants upon reasonable suspicion.

Northern placed Simpson on paid administrative leave following his arrest. A university representative said that an internal investigation was being conducted, but no details were available for release.

According to a court document, the investigation leading to the arrest and charging of Simpson started when U.S. Postal Service employees in Havre contacted a drug agent with the Tri-Agency Safe Trails Task Force to report they had on Oct. 19 intercepted a package addressed to Simpson containing about three pounds of suspected marijuana.

Postal records showed five packages including the one that was intercepted were mailed from California to Simpson between Sept. 21 and Oct. 17. Some were mailed from Simpson's home town of Pittsburg, Calif., the document said.

According to the court document, on Oct. 22 a representative of the local drug task reported that an anonymous tipster said Simpson was distributing marijuana to Northern athletes.

After receiving a search warrant, the task force agent investigating the package searched Simpson's residence Oct. 23, and smelled marijuana and found small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia scattered throughout the residence, the document said.

The 9 mm Taurus handgun was found in Simpson's room, and cash ranging from bundles of $300 to $8,000 were found throughout the residence, including hidden above a closet doorjamb, in a dresser drawer and in an attic space.

After Simpson refused to allow a search of the package, the postal inspector and the task force agent obtained a search warrant on the package, which contained about 2 pounds 3 ounces of a substance which field-tested positive for marijuana, the document said.

Simpson, who graduated from Northern in 2012, played for the Lights basketball team while at the university, including at the national tournaments in 2011 and 2012.

Reader Comments

(6)

despoticpeon writes:

The Feds may prosecute the additional felony level charges (there are quite a few) that the county isn't pursuing if he somehow evades prosecution. As to Gina Dahl going for the maximum all the time #1, we aren't at that stage yet and #2 even if we were, that's the smart play. You scare them with the max, get them to plead, and save the county a the expense of a trial. Now if we could just elect a judge instead of having a second attorney for the defense behind the bench..

Iwanna writes:

I am very serious...and it is a great article which was written well through previous articles. Marijuana is still up there along with METH and Rx PILLS, so it is considerably just as dangerous. The comment I posted was to bring to light that ANYONE IS CAPABLE OF SELLING AND DEALING DRUGS TO THE PUBLIC and it hurts everyone. GET OVER IT and move on, there is always going to be articles minor or major regarding DRUGS.

oldnews writes:

Well written article? Seriously? Most of it is cut and paste from previous articles. Again I say GET OVER IT. There are bigger drug propblems in Havre. Do you even know anything about marijuana vs. meth?

DeConstructor writes:

I wonder why the state and county are pursuing this when the package went through the mail. This case should be prosecuted by the feds. And, really, the charges should be general stupidity, for having the package mailed.

Iwanna writes:

Why should the public & HDN get over this incident? It is a well written article and shows that ANYONE is capable of causing harm to others. By that, I am referring to Simpsons actions post-pre of selling marijuana to the public, teens, etc etc... and who is well known in the baskteball area. This is not a victimless or harmless crime as noted in a previous post regarding Simpson. In the end someone ALWAYS gets hurt.

oldnews writes:

The Havre Daily and the people of Havre need to GET OVER THIS!!! And why does Gina Dahl always go for maximum punishment? Does she honesetly think that makes her look like she is doing her job well? Because she's not. She is terrible at her job!!