Columbia Falls man sentenced for drug charge in Lincoln County
By SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News
A Columbia Falls man facing drug charges in Lincoln County after a traffic stop in June near Fortine pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Monday, Nov. 7.
Jasper Marten Howell, 45, pleaded guilty in district court to misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. A charge of felony possession of dangerous drugs was dismissed as a result of a plea agreement.
Howell appeared on video from the Recovery Centers of Montana in Columbia Falls for his arraignment earlier this summer. But Howell was in court when Flathead County District Judge Amy Eddy gave him a 6-month suspended sentence. He received credit for spending 14 days in the Lincoln County Detention Center.
Howell wanted to make a $500 donation to the Flathead Wrestling Club, but while Eddy thanked him for the offer, she said she couldn’t allow it because the donation would have gone to a group outside of Lincoln County where the offense occurred. Howell was ordered to pay a total of $335 in fines and fees.
Eddy was in court after Howell’s public defender Keenan Gallagher asked for a new judge earlier this year. Eddy made the 190-mile round trip on bad roads due to a winter storm that passed through the region on Nov. 7. Eddy was on the bench for one other case and spent a total of 10 minutes there.
Howell originally faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison for possession of dangerous drugs.
According to a probable cause statement by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Clint Heintz, he received a report on June 22 from dispatch in Eureka about a red van driving all over the road. Fifteen minutes later, Heintz saw the van traveling north on U.S. 93. He said the van crossed the center double yellow line and it matched the description of the report he received.
He later found drugs in Howell’s vehicle. Howell has a past history of allegedly dealing drugs in Flathead County as well.