Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Simpson charged with felony drug count

Anonymous tip claims was distributing to Lights football players


November 11, 2013

A recruiter for Montana State University-Northern — a former standout Lights basketball player — now faces a felony and multiple misdemeanor counts in state District Court in Havre stemming from an investigation of a damaged package mailed from California to Havre.

The Hill County Attorney has charged Northern admissions specialist Joe C. Simpson, born in 1990, with attempted criminal possession of drugs with the intent to distribute and with misdemeanor counts of possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and use or possession of property subject to forfeiture — a 9 mm Taurus handgun and about $13,000 in cash.

Simpson’s arraignment, in which defendants typically enter a plea and a followup hearing, is scheduled for Nov. 25.

Northern public relations director Jim Potter said Thursday that Simpson was still on paid administrative leave pending resolution of the charges. He said no information from an internal investigation the university was conducting about the charges was available Thursday.

According to a court document, the investigation leading to the arrest and charging of Simpson started when a representative of the Havre post office contacted a federal law enforcement official Oct. 22 and said U.S. Postal Service employees had intercepted a package addressed to Simpson containing about three pounds of suspected marijuana.

The postal supervisor told the agent that on Saturday, Oct. 19, a clerk at the post office reported the package had arrived in damaged condition and smelled of marijuana, and that the supervisor could recognize the odor because “these things have happened in the past.”

The supervisor also said that someone had come to the post office inquiring about the package. Joe Simpson was later identified using a surveillance video as that person.

The supervisor said several similar packages had been mailed to Simpson in previous weeks, the court document said.

Postal records showed five packages including the one that was intercepted were mailed from California to Simpson between Sept. 21 and Oct. 17.

Oct. 22, a Havre Police officer informed the federal agent that an anonymous tipster said Simpson was distributing marijuana to members of the Montana State University-Northern football team.

The document said a postal inspector tried to deliver the package — which required the recipient to sign a confirmation slip — to Simpson twice on on Oct. 22, and each time, roommates of Simpson declined to accept the package.

The federal agent obtained a search warrant, and served the warrant at 4:25 p.m. Oct. 23. Simpson and one of his roommates were the sole occupants of the resident at that time, the document said.

The document said the agent smelled marijuana immediately upon entering the residence, and that small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were scattered throughout the residence.

The 9 mm Taurus handgun was found in Simpson’s room, and cash ranging from bundles of $300 to $2,300 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 federal agent obtained a search warrant on the package, which contained about 2 pounds 3 ounces of substance which field-tested positive for marijuana, the document said.

Simpson, a native of Pittsburg, Calif., which the court document said is from where some of the packages were mailed, graduated from Northern in 2012.

He was the recipient of the NAIA Champion of Character award in 2012, which was given to student athletes who excel in five traits: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. He was also the Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year.


Reader Comments

Sad writes:

It is just sad, sad that young people make mistakes, people would think something was wrong if the paper did not report it, but hate to see it as Joe is a nice person who made some bad choices. There is no win for anyone, as much as I hate to see the article, young people need to know that there are consequences for what they do. It is questionable if an anonymous source should have pointed to the football team???? I think everyone thinks that there is enough damage without that comment.

MzMontana writes:

It is disgusting how people try to whitewash criminal activity by calling it a mistake. Deliberately doing something, knowing full well that it is against the law, is not a mistake. It is a crime.

Disagree writes:

There is no reason to run the same story twice. It's poor reporting. Find something else to report on. A mistake was made, which he will accept the consequences for. Get over it people. Focus on the bigger problems in that town and county.

Anonymous writes:

You people of Havre are so ignorant in your statements. This article has nothing to do with Tim Leeds or a slow news day in Havre. The real problem here is pretty simple: Weed is illegal (whether you agree it should be or not). Joe Simpson possessed weed and had the intent to distribute it. Those actions are ILLEGAL. Therefore, he suffers the consequences based on HIS own actions. This story would still be run whether it was an highly regarded athlete of the community or an average Havreite.

Steve writes:

An 'anonymous tipster' gives information to a local police officer, who then relays said information to a federal agent. This is the type of 'credible' information our journalists use to write stories? Pathetic.

jkelleherHDN writes:

If the county attorney thought the connection to the football team was important enough to be in the charging documents, it was important enough to be in the story. If he had sold to Kelleher, Leeds and Ferguson would it have been in the story? For sure. It would have been in the first paragraph. If any of us get in trouble, it will get far more attention than someone from the general public. That's rule number one here.

nitpick writes:

I would take your advice were I attacking George personally but I'm not. I am noting that the many minor errors that consistently appear in his stories detract from the enthusiasm and knowledge he brings to his work. What does my name matter?

Seriously writes:

Tim Leeds; why do you post things that are not facts. Does it occur to you that he was recently a student who probably knows football players? Also, why are you writing another article about old news? because of who he is in the community? are you trying to slam him by mentioning awards. you should be ashamed. what a terrible article. and done because its another slow news day in little Havre.

nitpick writes:

Why mention another athletic program based on a tip? What if the tipster told the cops Joe was selling to Kelleher, Leeds and Ferguson? Would you run that? Lousy journalism.


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