A 28-year-old man facing attempted murder charges for shooting at a Missoula police officer recently worked as a corrections officer at the Montana State Prison and has a violent criminal record.
Timothy J. Hoppe remains in the Missoula County Jail on $250,000 bail after an Oct. 7 incident, during which he allegedly fired a rifle in the direction of Missoula Police officer Robert Campbell.
Hoppe, who has a Department of Corrections (DOC) employment record dating back to 2003, was charged in 2005 with felony assault with a weapon for cutting a man with a knife during an altercation in front of the Pita Pit in downtown Missoula, according to court records. He was also charged with two counts of assault for kicking two men during the same fight.
Hoppe later pleaded to and was found guilty of three misdemeanors for the incident and was subsequently sentenced to drug and alcohol testing, a fine and anger management classes, according to records on file with the Missoula Justice Court.
That history didn't hinder Hoppe's employment with DOC. After working as a prison guard for five months in 2003, he was rehired in July of this year. He left the job again in September, according to DOC spokesman Bob Anez.
Anez says DOC conducted a background check before hiring Hoppe, but employment candidates are not automatically excluded based on prior misdemeanors. The department now plans on reevaluating its screening process.
"We're going to take a look at that again," says Anez.
This isn't the first incident in which prison employees were accused of illegal behavior. Last year, DOC announced four female employees admitted to being involved with or having knowledge of alleged misconduct with a prison inmate. Several employees resigned after that incident. But Powell County Attorney Lewis Smith concluded there was insufficient evidence to support filing criminal charges.