Monday, December 31, 2012

Lake County Sgt. Dan Duryee resigns amid allegations of misconduct

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Sergeant Dan Duryee, one of the four officers in the Lake County Sheriff’s Department defending themselves in federal court over wide-ranging allegations of misconduct, submitted a letter of resignation last week, Undersheriff Dan Yonkin confirmed today. His last day wearing a Lake County badge will be Jan. 3.

Dan Duryee
  • Dan Duryee

In September 2010, Duryee admitted to making false claims about serving in the military. A few colleagues in the Lake County Sheriff’s Department had suspected Duryee’s detailed combat stories were fabricated, and in May 2010 they asked the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, to investigate.

“It is evident that Duryee was allowed to be a member of the Special Response Team and a sniper without attending any formal training, based on his false claims of military service and combat experience,” POST concluded. “It is also evident that Duryee was given command of the Special Response Team” based on those claims.

Duryee’s colleagues said he had been telling made-up war stories for more than a decade, but in a letter to Sheriff Jay Doyle, Duryee admitted to only once telling a “fish story.” He wrote, “This was a lie...I make no excuses for what I did. It was wrong and disrespectful. I deeply regret this story.”

POST recommended revocation of Duryee’s law enforcement certification because he’d violated the code of ethics, undermined public confidence in law enforcement and harmed the agency’s and officers’ reputations. But that was beyond what Doyle thought was appropriate. His internal investigation concluded that Duryee hadn’t committed a crime, that his lie was “just a story” and that there were no grounds for discipline. Still, in early 2012, POST served Duryee with notice of a certification revocation hearing, which has yet to take place.

POST’s investigation uncovered other alleged misconduct by Duryee. A Lake County Sheriff’s deputy said in a sworn statement that in 2006, Duryee arrived at the scene of a suicide, bagged up some of the victim’s skull fragments and allegedly gave them to Deputy Becky McClintock, who thought human remains might help train her cadaver dog.

In May 2011, Duryee was taken to court after he entered a Polson apartment through a bedroom window and allegedly used excessive force in apprehending a man suspected of domestic assault—but it was the wrong apartment, and the wrong man. That case was dismissed two months ago.

But Duryee’s still embroiled in the federal court case five current and former officers in the Lake County Sheriff's Department brought against Duryee, Sheriff Jay Doyle, Undersheriff Dan Yonkin and Detective Mike Sargeant in February 2012. The plaintiffs—former officers Mike Gehl, Steve Kendley and Terry Leonard, and current deputies Levi Read and Ben Woods—claim that the defendants retaliated against them for bringing forward evidence of wrongdoing within the department, ranging from Duryee’s lies to several officers’ involvement in a poaching group known as the “Coyote Club.” The defendants acted “in concert and with criminal purpose,” the plaintiffs argue, violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. A trial is expected to begin in March 2013.

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Most Popular Blog Posts of the Year: The gay bashing that wasn't

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 11:20 AM

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Last week, we started counting down the end of 2012 by counting down the Indy's top five blog posts of the year. But because this is a list, and because today is actually the last day of 2012, we waited to unveil the most popular post of the year. In the business, they call this a tease.

We're done with teases and ready to get down to business. The number one blog post of the year published Aug. 7 and was titled "About that Missoula gay bashing? It didn't happen." Jessica Mayrer acquired exclusive video showing how a 22-year-man who originally claimed he was the victim of an assault was actually injured. The story went viral and was quickly picked up by the New York Daily News and Huffington Post, among others. Mayrer wrote:

A 22-year-old man who reported he was the victim of an alleged hate crime in Missoula during the early morning hours of August 5 has admitted he made the story up. “It has now been determined that the assault did not occur,” Missoula Police Lieutenant Scott Brodie said in an August 7 statement.

That same day, Joseph Baken, of Billings, pleaded guilty in Missoula Municipal Court to misdemeanor filing of a false report to law enforcement.

The Tuesday afternoon confession came after the Missoula Independent and law enforcement obtained video showing the alleged victim doing a backflip on Higgins Avenue before landing on his face and sustaining lacerations.

You can view the infamous backflip below.

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Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 9:00 AM

This week, confidential confetti.

Curses, Foiled Again and Again and Again—and Again
Since embarking on a life of crime in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1985, Jack Mannino, 44, has been thwarted repeatedly and spent most of his adult life in prison. “I never got away with anything,” he stated while testifying in federal court after pleading guilty to bank robbery and agreeing to testify against his former partner, Gary Fama, to get a lighter sentence. The pair stole $5,658 and sped away in reverse, blowing the transmission in Mannino’s new Lexus only two blocks from the bank. They fled, but, in addition to the car, registered in his name, Mannino left behind his wallet, containing his driver’s license and credit cards. After hearing his testimony, Fama’s attorney, Elizabeth Macedonio, commented, “You must be the worst criminal in the history of criminals.” (The New York Times)

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Happiest Hour: Atomic Cocktail

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 1:30 PM

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What you’re drinking: Only the most explosive champagne-infused cocktail we’ve ever tried, because you like to ring in the new year with a bang.

What it is (this time without all the bomb cliches, please): Fine. The Atomic includes one shot of vodka, one shot of cognac and a half-shot of sherry mixed with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Top it with brut champagne.

Why we like it: The name is an instant conversation starter that sounds way too intimidating for such a dangerously drinkable cocktail. Plus, we never know how else to use sherry.

Where the name comes from: According to renowned mixologist Dave Wondrich, the drink dates back to the early 1950s and the Vegas strip. Casino managers worried that patrons would stay home amid A-bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site and created a concoction that was “cold, sparkly, and very, very potent to wash down the radiation.” This, for some of you, is all the recommendation you need.

Words of warning: It ain’t called the Atomic for nothin’. Consider it a festive way to kick off an evening, but certainly not something you want to pound well past midnight.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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Most Popular Blog Posts of the Year: John Mayer in Montana!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM

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All week we'll be counting down the end of 2012 by counting down the Indy's top five blog posts of the year. It's a pretty big deal, we know, and that's why we're stringing it out over five days.

Without any further ado, here's No. 2:

Truth be told, this one caught us a bit off guard. When the news came out that Jenifer Aniston's ex-boyfriend had moved to Montana to get his head on straight and work on his new album and to get away with wearing hats like this, it damn near broke our site. Here's the entirety of what we wrote:

Mega-popular musician and tabloid magnet John Mayer, who's known for his bluesy guitar playing and playboy lifestyle, has come out of a self-imposed hiatus to promote his new album.

During an interview yesterday on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" he revealed that his life had spun out of control; exhibit A: his April 2010 Playboy interview revealed a little too much about his porn addiction and sex life with the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson. Needing to chill out, and also recover from throat surgery, Mayer ended up in the place everyone goes to completely escape: Montana. He bought a house in the Bozeman area, "in the middle of nowhere," and he says he's grown up a lot. You can see his full interview below.

That's it. But it was enough to have loyal Montanans alternately freaking out about or celebrating Mayer's arrival. The comments on the post are a pretty interesting read by themselves.

Mayer, of course, wasn't the only music-related post this year to move the needle. Two others that placed just outside our year's top five blog posts: Changes at 96.3 The Blaze took away the hard rock station's local programming and added more of bands like Creed, and the Smashing Pumpkins gave less than one week's notice before playing the Wilma. Billy Corgan and Co., in turn, ended up providing one of the weirder bits of stage banter (it starts about 1:30 into the clip) of the year.

We'll be back on Monday, New Year's Eve, with the most popular blog post of the year.

Past posts:
No. 3: Coyotes
No. 4: Politics
No. 5: Beer

Continue reading »

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Most Popular Blog Posts of the Year: Coyotes, wolves and bears, oh my

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM

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All week we'll be counting down the end of 2012 by counting down the Indy's top five blog posts of the year. It's a pretty big deal, we know, and that's why we're stringing it out over five days.

Without any further ado, here's No. 3:

In his only interview on the subject, Jamie Olson told the Independent that critics had it all wrong when it came to the trapping photos he posted online. Matthew Frank wrote about the controversy first on the Indy blog Nov. 2 and, in addition to Olson's quotes, posted a number of graphic images that showed Olson's dogs with a trapped coyote. Frank wrote:

Olson, reached by phone yesterday, acknowledged he made a “big-ass mistake”—not in his coyote hunting practices, but in letting the photos, which he says are more than five years old, be publicly accessible on his Facebook account.

“The reality of it,” Olson said, “is that those were private pictures—personal pictures taken on personal time—and most of them were before I even worked for the agency I work for, and those were not intended for public access.” He said he intended only for his dad to view the photos, so his dad could see the dog Olson was training.

Now, as a result of the photos going viral, Olson said "shit's hitting the fan and I'm having to explain things." He has since deactivated his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Olson, a federal Wildlife Services employee in Wyoming, is under investigation and no longer giving interviews. Two congressmen have also called for an audit of Wildlife Services.

Coyotes weren't the only animal that caught our online readers attention this year. Two other wildlife posts ranked just outside of our year's top five. Back in March we posted "How to eat a wolf," which linked to a Boise Weekly story about the culinary possibilities of the canine. And in January, Alex Sakariassen had the story (and photos) of a bear that decided to den beneath the den of a Georgetown Lake cabin.

Check in tomorrow for No. 2 in our countdown.

Past entries:
No. 4: Tester wins and an election judge breaks the law
No. 5: Montana's love of beer climbs the national ranks

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Rockies Today will return Jan. 2

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 10:28 AM

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If you've been wondering where your daily dose of western headlines has been, wonder no more. The Rockies Today is on vacation like everyone else (except a few of us at Indy Central) and will return Jan. 2.

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to read, may we suggest our week-long look back at the top blog posts of 2012.

Here is the first installment, and the second.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Most Popular Blog Posts of the Year: You're not entirely sick of politics

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 2:10 PM

All week we'll be counting down the end of 2012 by counting down the Indy's top five blog posts of the year. It's a pretty big deal, we know, and that's why we're stringing it out over five days.

Without any further ado, here's No. 4:

Two Election Day posts generated enough traffic to rank in the fourth spot of this list. One was an ongoing wrap-up of results, ranging from the day-after announcement of Jon Tester's win in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race to a former local's pivotal role in President Obama's reelection.

Here's what you need to know as you pull yourself together this morning:

- Obama lost Montana, but won the general election handily. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his campaign team and volunteers by calling them the best in history. That team includes Jim Messina, a former UM student and Sen. Max Baucus chief of staff who served as Obama's campaign manager.

- Obama also thanked those who waited in long lines to vote and noted, "By the way, we have to fix that." In Missoula, there were reports of voters waiting several hours to cast a ballot, and lines remained at the Elections Office past 11 p.m.

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The other post came in before voting booths closed and involved a Flathead County election judge with a particularly colorful—and illegally parked—rig. Matthew Frank wrote:

Flathead County Election Administrator Paula Robinson confirmed that the election judge drove the truck to the polling place, but she wasn't sure if he actually owned it. Initially, she said, a complaint alleged that the truck was parked within 100 feet of the entrance of the polling place, which is against the law. By the time she sent a staffer to tell the election judge to move the truck, he already had, she said.

"Certainly for me, in hiring election judges," Robinson said, "there isn't anything that states that they can't drive a vehicle and park it 100, 200 feet away from a polling place with a political sign on it....And so at this point, I guess it's more of an ethical question. Who am I to determine, if it's not within statute, whether he's ethically right or wrong?

While these political posts generated the most traffic, they were just two of many from a contentious election year. In-house favorites included Montana's contribution to the dubious history of debating empty chairs and an incident that involved a Tester "tracker" getting knocked down at a campaign event. The latter introduced one of our 2012 heroes, the "Don't Cry" guy.

Check back tomorrow for No. 3 in our Best Blog Posts of 2012 countdown.

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the sci-fi film trilogy The Matrix, the heroes are able to instantaneously acquire certain complex skills via software that's downloaded directly into their brains. In this way, the female hacker named Trinity masters the art of piloting a military M-109 helicopter in just a few minutes. If you could choose a few downloads like that, Aries, what would they be? This isn't just a rhetorical question meant for your amusement. In 2013, I expect that your educational capacity will be exceptional. While you may not be able to add new skills as easily as Trinity, you'll be pretty fast and efficient. So what do you want to learn? Choose wisely.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Most Popular Blog Posts of the Year: Beer comes in 5th

Posted By on Tue, Dec 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM

All week we'll be counting down the end of 2012 by counting down the Indy's top five blog posts of the year. It's a pretty big deal, we know, and that's why we're stringing it out over five days.

Without any further ado, here's No. 5:

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On Aug. 3, Matthew Frank wrote about Montana's climb up the ranks for most breweries per capita.

Montanans like craft beer, and having neighbors few and far between. That’s not news. But this is: We now rank No. 2 in the country in breweries per capita, behind only Vermont, with one for every 30,919 Montanans.

Based on 2011 counts, Montana’s 32 breweries pushed the state from No. 3 to No. 2, surpassing Oregon, according to the national Brewers Association.

Judging from this post's traffic — and others — our readers like stories that highlight local pride. And beer. Similar posts this year included Decemberists frontman and former UM student Colin Meloy delivering a standout commencement address at Helena High, a local Missoula writer contributing to the Super Bowl's most talked about commercial and Big Sky Brewery making The Brewers Association's list of the nation's top craft breweries.

Check back tomorrow for No. 4 in our Best Blog Posts of 2012 countdown.

Illustration by Pumpernickel Stewart

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