Bail reduction hearing set for Dec. 4
A man with apparent connections to Los Angeles, Atlanta and Great Falls, and possibly Helena, denied charges he had nearly 300 prescription pain pills he planned to sell when he was pulled over for a traffic stop on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.
Richard W. Vanzant III, born in 1984, entered his not guilty pleas before District Judge Dan Boucher in state District Court in Havre to three charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute them, a felony count of possession or use of property subject to forfeiture and a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.
Schoenleben added that his office is investigating the question of whether the pills found with Vanzant may have been from his own prescription.
When Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl objected to proposed changes in conditions of his release on bond, Boucher scheduled a hearing on the matter for Dec. 4.
Public defender Thomas Schoenleben requested Vanzant's bond be reduced from $50,000 to $10,000, saying that as these are the first felony charges against Vanzant, a lower amount is appropriate.
He said Vanzant is a resident of Atlanta, but would stay at a residence in Great Falls, and requested the conditions be modified to allow him to travel from Cascade County to Havre for court hearings. He added that Vanzant did not object to Dahl's requested condition that he be subject to search by law enforcement upon reasonable suspicion and would sign a waiver of extradition as he is an out-of-state resident.
The booking form taken when Vanzant was arrested lists his residence as in Los Angeles, and he told officers when he was arrested he lived in Helena or at least received mail there.
Vanzant told Boucher he would live with a friend in Great Falls, adding that his possessions already were at that friend's residence.
Boucher also set an omnibus hearing, which generally includes setting dates for deadlines, hearings and a trial, scheduling that hearing for Jan 13.
The incident that led to the charges started with a tip to Rocky Boy law enforcement Nov. 6 that a man in a black vehicle with plates was selling prescription medications at a Box Elder convenience store and tavern, a charging document said.
The next day, a Rocky Boy officer notified a Tri Agency Safe Trails Task Force agent that he had pulled over a vehicle matching the description for a traffic violation on the agency road.
The officer said Vanzant granted permission to search the vehicle, and that the officer smelled the strong odor resembling marijuana and found a large amount of U.S. currency.
The charging document said two task force agents responded to the scene, and requested a narcotic-detecting dog be brought to the scene.
After the dog alerted the agents, they asked Vanzant if they could search the vehicle and he agreed, the document sid..
Vanzant told the agents he had some prescription pills, "the pain ones ... codones," after previously saying he had a prescription but had no pills with him.
The agents found small amount of apparent marijuana under the dash, and, behind it, a prescription bottle. The agent could not read the prescription nor to whom it was made due to its age and discoloration. The bottle contained 267 pills identified as three different kinds or strengths of oxycodone pain pills, the document said.
After obtaining a search warrant for Vanzant's cellphone, the agent saw images that led him to believe the defendant has ties to a gang, the document said. Photos included images of Vanzant in front of a wall on the Rocky Boy reservation inscribed with "CK 187" which the agent believes refers to "Crip Killer" and the California penal code for murder, 187.