Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Simpson admits leaving state without permission

Former Northern athlete, recruiter ordered to wear GPS if released


February 3, 2014

Tim Leeds

Joe C. Simpson II leaves the defendant's table this morning in state District Court in Havre.

A former university employee accused of planning to sell marijuana in Havre admitted this morning to flying to California without permission, with the judge responding that he could be released if he wears a global positioning system device.

Joe Clifton Simpson II, born in 1990, admitted in state District Court this morning to boarding an airplane in Great Falls Dec. 24 without permission from the county attorney. That was the day after state District Judge Dan Boucher warned him that if he was allowed to reside with his mother in California he would be subject to the rules of the court including a warrant being issued for his arrest and possibly facing new charges if he failed to appear in any required court appearances.

Boucher issued a $50,000 warrant Dec. 24.

Simpson turned himself in at the Hill County jail Jan. 23.

The Hill County attorney filed charges against Simpson after law enforcement officers said a package mailed to him from California was found to contain 995 grams - 2 pounds, three ounces - of a substance that field-tested positive for marijuana, a charging document says.

Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl said during this morning's hearing that Simpson should remain in custody.

"The state, obviously, is concerned with any flight risk," she said.

"We disagree," Simpson's attorney, Lindsay Lorang, responded.

Lorang said that, because Simpson turned himself in and has spent 11 days in jail, that should be sufficient punishment for returning to California to spend the holidays with his family. She said Simpson would agree to checking in regularly with law enforcement as a requirement of his release if desired.

Boucher said the court shared the prosecution's concern about a risk of flight. He said he didn't doubt that Simpson left the state to spend the holidays with his family, "but that's not how it works."

Boucher ordered Simpson released on the $50,000 posted if he obtains and wears a GPS monitor to track his location. He said if the cost of obtaining such a device is a problem, Simpson could bring that up with the court.

Simpson was charged with felony counts of attempted criminal possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possessing property subject to forfeiture and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

According to a charging document, U.S. Postal Service employee notified the Tri-Agency Safe Trails Task Force Oct. 22 that a package mailed from Pittsburg, Calif., to Simpson at his Havre residence appeared to contain marijuana.

The postal service employee said the package had been damaged in shipping and contained a green substance in plastic bags that appeared to be, and smelled like, marijuana.

Postal Service records showed five packages similar to the package reported Oct. 22, weighing 2 pounds or more, were shipped to Simpson from California between Sept. 21 and Oct. 17, the document says.

According to the charging document, law enforcement officers serving a search warrant on the residence Oct. 23 reported finding a 9 mm Taurus handgun in Simpson's room at his residence in Havre, which he shared with two roommates.

Requests have been filed in civil court that Daniel Agostino and Daniel Mack forfeit property found in the search.

The officers also found small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia including glass pipes commonly used to smoke marijuana, the document says.

The officers also found more than $13,000 in the residence in bundles ranging from $300 to more than $8,000, the document says.


Reader Comments

Reality writes:

Yes he was a flight risk and went home after was ordered not to. To think he is a flight risk now though ?!? He came back to montana on his own and turned himself in knowing he may not even get another chance to be out on bail. So I don't think running is where his head is at. I think wanting to see his family for the holidays and not knowing when he will see them again was his concern. Not saying was smart but .. Reality is people running to hide don't come back to the state they ran from.

despoticpeon writes:

He's obviously a flight risk because he already took off (literally on a flight) when things didn't go his way, violating a direct order from the judge. Our problem is that every defendant in this county has two defense attorneys working for them. Their legal counsel and the defense attorney on the bench. Part of the reason we have such a high crime rate and keep seeing the same names in the paper every week is that there is no real punishment for crime in this county. Vote Boucher out if anyone

Fedup writes:

It's election year for Gina Dahl and she is obviously trying to make some sort of example out of this. Flight risk? Seriously, he turned himself in. If he were some sort of flight risk he would not have came back to Havre. She has been horrible at her job not being able to help convict nor catch anyone having any part of the major drug problem in the county. Be smart when voting people. Do not re-elect this woman!

havremt12 writes:

Ok brace yourself! I agree with Gina Dahl, Joe is a flight risk and should stay in jail!He did it once and he'll do it again! GPS? Where's he going to come up with the money to pay for this? Selling more drugs? Holden's? Does the Judge really think a GPS bracelet is going to keep Joe out of trouble? Not even! The only place he will stay out of trouble is behind bars where he BELONGS!I agree fully with Gina!!!!

Grumpy writes:

Nothing to get excited about here, he will get a plea deal and be out of jail before summer. That's the problem with the system, too many plea deals, should be none. If the cops and court system can't come up with enough evidence, then throw it out of court, don't plea it away, it's a waste of time.


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