Havre Daily News - News you can use

Damaged package led to pot arrest

Northern recruiter on paid leave


October 30, 2013

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.


Reader Comments

peopleareidiots writes:

Havre daily has to find the bust. They are happening. The officers didnt stumble upon the pot bust either. They work hard. The drug problem on the hi line is no joke. There is more out there then we know. Its just not in the media like Great Falls media is good at. A bust is a bust. He was wrong and now he pays.

Watcheseagle writes:

And now the task force is acting like they did some great police work and caught the bad guy....they stumbled into this pot bust and continue to waste good taxpayer dollars...when will we see busts for prescription pills and the number one problem METH???

Watcheseagle writes:

What happens to my comments on this story??? Just another example of the ongoing censorship practiced by HDN!!

Spunky writes:

Ok so just bc he is known in the community and is a productive member of society this isn't a big deal. Wth this is illegal activity. Yes there is other drug problems in the area. But a bust is still a bust. And bc it's pot it's safe? What about lung cancer from smoking it! I don't care who the person is. If they are doing the crime, pay the time. Period

montanamom writes:

The article does not say the gun was not registered, not that it is required anyway...everyone in this country has a right to bear arms. There was no crime there. And yes, this is a good kid who made a bad choice. He deserves a chance to start over. And yes, I think the task force needs to spend more time concentrating on the harder drugs. Pot is not, and should not, be a headliner.

Kyle writes:

I dont think its ok at all,all I was saying is that he is a good kid and person I have had the chance to meet him several times. I dont care that he is a former athlete at the college, I think everyone can agree that they know someone who is a good person, but at some point in there life they have made mistakes. All I am saying is for those of you who dont know Joe dont let this be the only thing you judge him on.

Joe writes:

Why does everyone think this is OK and no big deal just because one of the town's upstanding jocks is the one committing the crime?

WOW writes:

It's so sad to me that the task force only seems to care about themselves. Pot heads tend to be well off and have cash on hand. You'll never find a meth head with cash on hand. So who do they focus on? It's not the meth problem that is forsure. Havre was featured on Drugs Inc for it's horrible Meth problem, yet is there ever a bust? Not many that I've seen. And now you have an upstanding citizen with a name in little Havre who gets smeared for something that is not harmful.

wrongiswrong writes:

Regardless of your view of marijuana laws, let's remember there was an unregistered gun found and lots of untaxed/unreported cash found.... so while you want to say it's a waste of taxpayers money, I say he probably wasn't paying all the taxes he should have.

MOOSE writes:

I know there are some good bust going on but Havre daily news is not reporting the good the PD and sheriffs office are doing. They are getting the child abusers, meth users, and rapist. Havre daily news needs to get those stories. And weed is illegal so good job!!!!!!

hugeproblem writes:

This area has a very high concentration of drug use. Pot isnt any better for you than any other drug, its a gateway drug that leads to other use. I dont care who does it and I dont buy the it isnt harmful rationalization. Its a huge problem and one that our community needs to face and hit head on. The middle & high schools have a huge issue on their hands and these are the kids we are cranking out to be our future leaders. Something has to be done to correct this problem.

Watcheseagle writes:

Sad..another case where our archaic drug policies are going to adversely effect another otherwise good and upstanding citizens life!! I know he made a choice to act outside the law! Later this year when the signature collectors come around asking for support for the decriminalization of marijuana plese sign and think of this case!!

whattheheck writes:

Where is the victim in this crime? As a tax payer I don't want my taxes paying to indict and prosecute this man. There are no victims. If this harmless drug was legalized, we wouldn't be reading this story of a young working man, tax-payer, citizen and generally good person. Change the laws, Eric Holder needs to tell the truth and go after those bigger fish----leave this guy alone, let him work, pay taxes and enjoy his life. Prosecute those who steal/rob/rape/kill/maim.

payingtaxpayer writes:

This is just over weed right? What a waste of tax dollars and time. And for a damaged package there sure was quite a bit of investigation leading up to it...Meth and pills are rampant and are destroying families and hurting kids. Nobody gets hurt with cannabis, that's been beatin' with a stick. Start getting rid of the REAL problem Tri-county Task Force...This is getting old, wanna see some METH busts now, or large quantity of pills confiscated, Something!

Jimbo writes:

Furthermore, Joe can now be taken in two different lights. Joe is a great person, as in if you had a flat tire or needed help you bet he'd be there to help you with a smile on his face. In another light, he did something illegal (while I don't agree with the current drug policies it is what it is). So, I'm not here to defend Joe by any means. But, I do believe in our justice system and while I think I know the outcome, it's important to treat Joe the same way we did until he's convicted.

kaTie writes:

MISTAKE?!?!?!?!?!?! This was no mistake!! He knew very well what he was doing. The MISTAKE was getting sent to this house! Did he really think he wasn't going to get caught?!

Jimbo writes:

Because he hasn't been convicted yet, WOW. If you were detained for half a week and then had your name cleared, would you want to lose your job, as well? Right now Joe is innocent until the State/Gov proves otherwise.

Willy writes:

That would be Big Jim (Limbaugh)!

Willy writes:

I feel really bad for Joe, I think he is a great person and made a mistake. Judge the behavior not the person as a whole. But at the same time Northern needs to get rid of Big Jim.

Rick writes:

Wish you well Joe a lot of people make mistakes its what you do after your mistakes. I enjoyed watching you play basketball, but even more I had the opportunity to meet you. I thought you were very respectable young man learn from it and get better.

WOW writes:

Not the sharpest tack in the drawer to use the postal service in the first place which adds extra federal trafficing charges. The real question is why is the university still paying him?


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