Ex-Northern recruiter, charged with selling pot, accused of flying back to California without permission
A state District Judge Christmas Eve issued a warrant for the arrest of former Montana State University-Northern recruiter and former standout athlete accused of selling drugs in Havre.
The Hill County Attorney requested the warrant be issued for the arrest of Joe C. Simpson II, born in 1990, saying he boarded a plane 6 a.m. Tuesday in Great Falls scheduled to fly to Salt Lake City.
One day earlier, Judge Dan Boucher warned him that a warrant would be issued if he moved or traveled without permission, said the county attorney’s petition to revoke release.
Boucher Tuesday issued the warrant for Simpson’s arrest on $50,000 bond. A hearing on the request to revoke his release is scheduled for Feb. 2.
At a hearing Monday, Boucher set the trial on the charges against Simpson for June 24.
At that hearing, Simpson requested he be allowed to live with his mother in Sacramento, Calif. Boucher ordered a written request be filed for his review. The judge told Simpson that if the request were granted and he failed to appear for any proceedings at which his presence was required, the court would issue a warrant for his arrest, and he would face new charges.
Simpson pleaded not guilty in state District Court in Havre Nov. 26 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.
Northern placed Simpson on paid administrative leave after the charges were filed. He resigned from his potition Nov. 30.
Simpson was charged after U.S. Postal Service employees reported to the local drug task force on Oct. 22 that a package mailed to Simpson from California, which arrived at the Havre post office in damaged condition, appeared to contain a few pounds of marijuana.
At Monday’s hearing, Simpson also requested a delay of proceedings while he tried to find a different lawyer.
Boucher ruled against the request to delay proceedings, saying he saw no evidence that Simpson’s attorney had failed to properly represent him.
The document detailing the investigation that led to the Hill County Attorney filing charges against Simpson says postal records show five packages including the one that was intercepted Oct. 19 were mailed from California to Simpson between Sept. 21 and Oct. 17. Some were mailed from Simpson’s hometown 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 students.
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.