Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - This week in Great Falls federal court, a Fort Belknap man suspected of making threats to blow up the school in Dodson, near the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, was arraigned Tuesday on charges, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Jacob Erwin Wilson, 40, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with false information and hoaxes. If convicted of the most serious crime, Wilson faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

A Fort Belknap Man Allegedly Threatened to Blow up a School near Dodson

As alleged in the indictment, on Aug. 29, near Dodson, near the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Wilson placed a phone call to 911 and to the Dodson school and stated he was going to blow up the school.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Starnes is prosecuting the case. The FBI and Fort Belknap Law Enforcement Services conducted the investigation.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston presided. Wilson was detained pending further proceedings.

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Three Montanans Admitted to Trafficking Fentanyl in Missoula Federal Court

In Missoula Federal Court this week, three Montanans accused of trafficking fentanyl in the Missoula and Helena communities admitted to charges, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Nikolas Loren Pellant, 34, and Lynsi Noel Barnes, 32, both of Missoula, and Beau James Breneman, 44, of Helena, each pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. The defendants face a mandatory minimum of five years to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and at least three years of supervised release.

The government alleged in court documents that in October 2022, federal agents intercepted a package that contained more than 300 fentanyl pills and was addressed to Pellant. Officers arrested Pellant when he accepted the package in a controlled delivery. The investigation determined that Pellant and his girlfriend, Barnes, had been selling fentanyl in the Missoula are for several months and that they acquired the drug through the mail and by making weekly trips to Spokane, Washington. The government further alleged that in January, the Montana Highway Patrol stopped Barnes as she was returning from one such trip and seized more than 450 fentanyl pills and other evidence of drug distribution from her vehicle.

In addition, the government alleged that in January 2022, law enforcement received reports of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in Lewis and Clark County. An investigation determined that co-defendant Breneman was distributing heroin laced with fentanyl and that he had warned at least one customer to use small and diluted quantities of the drug because it was dangerous. Breneman admitted to distributing heroin laced with fentanyl. On May 31, Breneman and Barnes were passengers in a vehicle that was stopped in Shoshone County, Idaho. Law enforcement searched the car and found more than 300 fentanyl pills. Officers also found a plastic bag containing more fentanyl pills concealed on Breneman’s person.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter is prosecuting the case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing for Barnes and Breneman was set for March 28, 2024, while sentencing for Pellant was set for March 29, 2024 before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. All the defendants were detained pending further proceedings.

Blackfeet Tribe Leader Pleads Not Guilty to Stealing COVID Funds

Also in Great Falls federal court, the former operations manager for the Blackfeet Tribe was arraigned this week on charges accusing him of stealing federal COVID-19 relief funding the tribe received, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

James Cameron McNeely, 43, of Browning, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funding, wire fraud and theft from an Indian tribal organization. If convicted of the most serious crime, McNeely faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

The indictment alleges that the Blackfeet Tribe received federal grant funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to aid public health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As alleged, from about October 2021 to October 2022, while working as the tribe’s operations manager in Browning, McNeely stole more than $5,000 from the tribe by fraudulently submitting requests for repayment to the tribe after falsely claiming to purchase COVID-19 supplies on behalf of the tribe from Amazon.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston presided. McNeely was released pending further proceedings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon is prosecuting the case. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services conducted the investigation.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

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