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Plea deal reached in C-Falls scuffle

by DERRICK PERKINS
| November 15, 2023 2:00 AM

A man accused of climbing into another motorist’s vehicle parked at a Columbia Falls gas station over the summer earned a pair of suspended sentences in Flathead County District Court last month.

Mark Sheldon Allen, 53, initially faced a felony robbery count for the Aug. 11 incident. He pleaded not guilty at his Aug. 24 arraignment before Judge Amy Eddy. 

However, he took a deal with the County Attorney’s Office in October. In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors amended the felony charge to misdemeanor counts of assault and criminal trespass to a vehicle. They also agreed to recommend he receive a pair of suspended sentences to the county jail, and pay $370 in court fines and fees. The sentences were to run concurrently.

Eddy handed down the sentences Oct. 19, shortly after Allen entered a guilty plea to the pair of misdemeanor charges, sticking to the terms outlined in the agreement. She gave Allen credit for 13 days of time served. 

A motorist returning to his vehicle after washing his hands Aug. 11 found Allen inside, court documents said. Assuming Allen planned on stealing it, the motorist ordered him out. Allen started yelling in response and the two men soon began scuffling, court documents said. 

Allen allegedly placed the motorist in a chokehold while punching him in the head during the fight. The motorist eventually freed himself, court documents said. 

Allen later hopped into a red van and fled the gas station, allegedly in possession of the motorist’s wallet. 

Investigators secured surveillance footage of the confrontation and identified Allen in the video feed, court documents said. He was arrested that same day, according to court documents.