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Trial set for sex offender


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Matthew LaForge will stand trial on Jan. 29 in state District Court in Hill County on a felony charge of failure to register as a sexual offender.

District Judge John Warner set the trial date during a hearing Monday.

Warner told Deputy County Attorney Daniel Boucher that the state will need to prove LaForge was previously convicted of an offense that would qualify him to be registered.

Warner added that the state also will need to show that LaForge was living in Hill County, and that he didn't register.

"This isn't rocket science, this one," Warner said.

Boucher said the state planned to call Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera and Havre Police Chief Kevin Olson as witnesses for the prosecution to show that LaForge did not register.

State law says offenders must register with either the police chief or the sheriff, who are then responsible for notifying the appropriate agencies.

LaForge said at the hearing that he lives in North Havre. He also said he registered when he bonded out of jail last month.

Warner said the court would accept as proof a certified copy of the criminal judgment record from Great Falls, where LaForge was convicted of two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in 1995.

If LaForge is convicted of failing to register, Boucher said, the state will pursue a persistent felony offender classification, which could add an additional five years to a possible 10-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000.

LaForge also has two misdemeanor theft charges pending in Havre City Court, which are scheduled for trial on Jan. 13 and Feb. 26.

LaForge was out of jail on bond after the first theft charge when he was arrested on the second charge of theft.

Authorities noticed during a routine criminal background check during the first theft arrest that LaForge did not appear to be registered as a sexual offender.


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