Above the law 

In Lake County, it's hard to tell some cops from the criminals

In 2005, a moose was standing somewhere in the mountains north of Columbia Falls when Jesse Jacobs allegedly shot it. Jacobs didn't have a permit, however, so he reportedly got one from a friend who was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The tribal member took the meat. Jacobs claimed the head and antlers, which he would later mount and hang on his wall.

Jacobs, who had been in the Lake County Sheriff's Office's reserve training program, was charged with two poaching felonies in August 2010.

Meanwhile, Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Dan Duryee was spinning tall tales about his heroic service in the Gulf War, when in fact Duryee had never even been in the military. The Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, is the state body that polices the police. As POST investigated Duryee's lies last year, it learned of other, potentially criminal activities in the Lake County Sheriff's Office—including poaching.

They didn't know it at the time, but investigators from POST and from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks were working separately on what would turn out to be two angles to the same story. When they crossed paths, they realized that they had something bigger than fibs or poaching on their hands.

They discovered a hive of law enforcement misconduct in Lake County.

In September 2010, on the same day that Jacobs was charged with felony poaching, FWP began to take sworn statements from Lake County Sheriff's deputies and detectives, trying to determine who else in the office might have been poaching. FWP ultimately interviewed more than 50 people in the case, including several informants and former officers. The investigation, led by Game Warden Frank Bowen, pieced together details of what was known as the Coyote Club, a circle of Lake County law enforcement officers who'd allegedly been poaching game animals for more than a decade.

But during Bowen's interviews, something even more serious kept bobbing up. Several sources told him that in 2004, Lake County Sheriff's personnel conspired to conceal the involvement of a deputy in a boating-accident death.

It appeared that there was a "culture of corruption" in the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Bowen wrote in a 2010 report summarizing his findings. There was an old saying that "you can't break the law if you are the law," Bowen noted. In the Lake County Sheriff's Office, he said, that saying made some officers smile and left others disgusted. "There seemed to be a misguided brotherhood that covered for others even if the law was being broken," Bowen wrote.

click to enlarge A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigation suggests that law enforcement officers in Lake County have poached game animals.
  • A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigation suggests that law enforcement officers in Lake County have poached game animals.

That document and others implicating Lake County-area law enforcement officers were anonymously given to the Independent recently. The Independent separately obtained many more documents that provide further details of alleged crimes and misconduct among Lake County law enforcement. Subsequent interviews bolster those documents, and also show that there has been a pattern of retaliation against Lake County law enforcement officers who have tried to expose their colleagues' wrongdoing.

The alleged cover-up in the boating fatality and other offenses were outside FWP's jurisdiction, so Bowen sent his findings to other state agencies, including the Montana attorney general's office.

That was more than a year ago.

Others have separately approached Attorney General Steve Bullock with complaints of illegal acts committed by Lake County law enforcement officers.

Yet no charges have been filed.

Many of the officers whom the documents implicate are still wearing badges in Lake County.

The boating accident

On August 14, 2004, Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Witts was in a boat patrolling Flathead Lake when he got a call about a rowdy party in the Big Arm Bay area. Neighbors had complained about naked women running around.

The party turned out to be at the home of one of Witts's fellow deputies, Cory Anderson. According to Frank Bowen's investigation, when Witts pulled the boat up to Anderson's dock, three naked women greeted him.

It was a barbecue for the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Witts spoke with Anderson and another deputy at the party, Ed Todd, and concluded that they were both drunk. Witts told the women to put some clothes on, and before he pulled away from Anderson's dock, he specifically told Anderson not to take his boat out.

But Anderson did. Several people went with him, including 38-year-old Laura Lee Grant, Ed Todd's ex-wife. Grant was being pulled behind the boat in an inner tube along with another partygoer when they hit a big wave and were both flung from the tube. When Anderson circled back to get them, Grant was unconscious.

Not long after, Witts got a call from dispatch about an apparent boating accident in Big Arm Bay. Then Lake County Sheriff Bill Barron called Witts and told him to bring the boat back and go to the scene of the accident in a patrol car.

Lake County Reserve Deputy David Kostecki arrived at Anderson's party just as Anderson's boat was returning to his dock, with Grant inside. As it approached, Anderson was screaming "Call 911!" Kostecki told Bowen.

Anderson and Todd tried to revive Grant with CPR, not realizing that when she was thrown from the tube, she'd hyperflexed her neck and fractured her spine. She was taken by helicopter to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Dan Duryee, the cop who told tall tales, arrived at Anderson's party to take witness statements, then left with Anderson.

When Witts arrived in his patrol car, he wanted to interview Anderson, but Anderson and Duryee were long gone. Barron, the sheriff, told Witts to stay at Anderson's house and wait while Flathead County Detective Pat Walsh conducted an investigation. Witts believed this was done to give Anderson time to sober up. It was another 90 minutes before Walsh even got to Anderson's house.

Although Flathead County officers led the investigation, Anderson's fellow officers in the Lake County Sheriff's Office measured his blood-alcohol content—and they only did that approximately two and a half hours after the accident, according to Walsh's report. At that point, Anderson's BAC was 0.055, below the legal limit, which was then 0.1. Still, Walsh concluded that Anderson was "probably legally intoxicated at the time of the accident," Frank Bowen wrote.

This is largely the story Bowen tells in confidential FWP Law Enforcement Division documents, summarizing statements given by Witts, Kostecki and several other officers in September and October 2010. In a document dated Sept. 29, 2010, Bowen wrote that the investigation into Grant's death appeared to be incomplete.

Walsh declined to talk to the Independent about the boating accident investigation. Asked if he had concluded that there was no misconduct, he would only say that was not necessarily so.

Barron, now a Lake County commissioner, says accusations of a cover-up in Grant's death are "absolutely false." He acknowledges that about two and a half hours elapsed between the accident and Anderson's BAC test, yet he disputes Walsh's conclusion that Anderson was likely intoxicated when the accident occurred. Barron says he consulted with the state crime lab and concluded that, based on the average rate at which an adult male metabolizes alcohol, Anderson's BAC at the time of the accident was no higher than 0.093.

"This was handled 100-percent upright and forthright," Barron continues. "There was not one bit of this that was covered up."

Barron says he doesn't know why Anderson's fellow Lake County officers administered his BAC test rather than a Flathead County officer. And he says he can't account for the two-and-a-half-hour delay in taking it.

click to enlarge Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle laments that he has personnel who “thrive on mayhem.”
  • Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle laments that he has personnel who “thrive on mayhem.”

"When I found out that he hadn't had any kind of a breath test or blood test yet, I directed the deputies to go take it, because I knew that we could bring it back to a close [approximation] of what [his BAC] would have been at the time of the accident," he says.

After the boating accident, Barron fired Witts.

Barron says Witts was fired because he viewed pornography on his office computer, and that he believes Witts fabricated the story of a cover-up in retaliation.

Witts believed the alleged porn was an excuse "to discredit him, because of his knowledge and resistance to a county cover-up in the death of Ed Todd's ex-wife at a company barbecue," Bowen wrote. Witts could not be reached for comment.

Cory Anderson is now a Polson policeman. He denies any wrongdoing on the day Grant died. "It's been investigated, it went up to the attorney general's office and it's done and over with," he says.

Assistant Attorney General John Connor reviewed the case and found the facts did not warrant prosecuting a criminal case against Anderson. "Although it appears that he had been drinking at the time, proof of his actual blood-alcohol level would be difficult since he was not tested until approximately two and one half hours after the accident," Connor wrote in 2004. "In any event...there did not seem to be a connection between his alcohol consumption and the circumstances of the accident."

The Coyote Club

One evening more than a decade ago, Jason Van Voast saw a spotlight in the distance and heard a gunshot.

It didn't come as a surprise. For years, the Van Voast family, one of the largest landowners in Lake County, had problems with hunters spotlighting and illegally taking game in their grain fields. On many occasions, Jason Van Voast told FWP, the Van Voasts chased a spotlighter only to find a tribal police car that they believed belonged to officer Jason Nash.

After hearing the gunshot that evening, Van Voast drove to the area and found Nash and Mike Sargeant, of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, in Nash's patrol car. Van Voast said he asked them what they shot. A tree, they said.

The next day, Van Voast found a large buck shot dead in the same field where he'd found Nash and Sargeant the night before. He called FWP Warden Rick Schoening, who told Van Voast to leave the buck so Schoening could put a tracking device in it. But before Schoening could do that, someone took the buck's head. The rest of it was left to rot.

Van Voast's statement was one of roughly 25 that Bowen solicited from people familiar with Nash's hunting. Nash appeared to be a key member of the Coyote Club, according to Bowen. His tribal status exempts him from state hunting regulations, which seemed to provide cover for the other Lake County law enforcement officers he hunted with. Bowen's interviews suggested that Nash and other members of the Coyote Club had hunted illegally for more than a decade. It seemed to be an inner circle of "good ol' boys," as one source said, who gathered for drunken hunting excursions.

Much of that decade overlapped with Lance Ewers's stint as a Lake County Sheriff's deputy, from 2000 to 2009. Ewers, now an Alaska State Trooper, said Nash often hunted with Sargeant and other non-tribal law enforcement officers.

"They bragged about shooting game animals with spotlights from their patrol cars," Bowen wrote, summarizing Ewers's statement. "One of the officers tried to get Ewers to shoot a game animal from the patrol car one night when they were working together.

"That officer told Ewers it was the only way he could become part of the group. When Ewers refused to shoot the animal, the others became unfriendly and belligerent toward him."

It was Deputy Dan Duryee, Ewers said, who pressured him to illegally shoot an animal. Ewers ultimately left the force "due to the corrupt nature of several of the officers, and the unwillingness of the local leadership to deal with the issue," Bowen wrote.

Bowen also interviewed area taxidermists and meat processors. One said Nash and Sargeant were his best customers; from 1996 to 1998, they brought in a total of 16 trophy deer, two trophy elk and two bears. He said sometimes he'd find animals left outside his shop that Nash and Sargeant had dropped off overnight.

Another taxidermist and meat processor, who began doing business with Nash and Sargeant in 2001, said they brought more game than anyone else—10 or 12 animals a year. Nash brought so much that he was given the combination code for the building so he could drop animals off after-hours.

click to enlarge For years, Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Duryee lied about being a combat veteran.
  • For years, Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Duryee lied about being a combat veteran.

The taxidermists assumed there was no misconduct because Nash was a tribal member.

Ewers told Bowen that Lake County law enforcement officers would leave poached animals at a taxidermy shop under Nash's name, an allegation supported by statements given by a taxidermist and two of his employees. "Anything not tagged with a state license went under the name of Jason Nash," Ewers told Bowen. "Everyone believed that because Nash was a tribal member and a tribal police officer, no one could or would do anything about it."

Tribal members on the Flathead Reservation can hunt year-round and take as many animals as they wish.

Tribal Game Warden Mike McElderry had heard rumors over the years about Nash's hunting, and he informed Nash's supervisors in the tribal police department. "McElderry stated that those supervisors told him that the problem would stop or Nash would be terminated from his position as a tribal officer," Bowen wrote. "Somewhere round 2005, McElderry spoke directly to Nash about his alleged hunting violations. McElderry told Nash that the activity needed to stop or there would be dire consequences."

On Sept. 7, 2010, Bowen and McElderry interviewed Nash. The tribal cop was "very evasive," Bowen thought. Nash claimed to have never hunted on the Flathead Reservation with a non-tribal member, though he admitted to giving Sargeant one or two deer or elk mounts. He stated that in June 2010, after he learned of FWP's pending investigation, he and another officer removed wildlife mounts from Sargeant's home. He said Sargeant had asked them to.

Bowen also interviewed 23 officers employed by Lake County, most of whom voluntarily made sworn statements. Four officers refused, including Lieutenant Mike Sargeant.

On Sept. 20, 2010, Bowen wrote to Wayne Ternes, the director of POST, the arm of the Montana Department of Justice that oversees state law enforcement agencies, requesting that Ternes do "whatever is within your power" to compel the officers to come forward.

The case remains open. Bowen says he can't discuss it.

During the 2010 hunting season, FWP received further allegations implicating Nash, including hunting on private property, shooting from a county road and taking wildlife with the aid of artificial light. The allegations were forwarded to Tribal Fish and Wildlife in November 2010. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes haven't filed charges, nor are they expected to.

"There are a lot of allegations with no dates, no times, no witness statements—nothing of that nature," says Tribal Law and Order Chief Craige Couture. "It's hard. Anyone can make an allegation...but without facts and proof, it's hard to prove the case."

It may be impossible. Tribal Fish and Game Conservation Manager Pablo Espinoza says the statute of limitations has expired for most of the allegations against Nash.

Nash is still a tribal cop. He did not return calls seeking comment.


Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Dan Duryee gave detailed accounts of his experiences as a Marine in combat. Once, he told a fellow officer, he had been part of a six-man team in a firefight. When air support came to drop napalm on the enemy, they took cover behind a wall but the napalm splashed over it. Four men died and a fifth was wounded. Duryee said he carried the wounded Marine to safety, but the Marine later died in a hospital in Germany. Duryee showed the officer the scar on his arm where the napalm had hit him.

Duryee also told that officer that he had never slept better than the night after his first combat kill.

And he complained to his wife of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Levi Read began to suspect that Duryee was fabricating his war stories. In 2008, Read was in a standoff with an armed suspect. Duryee commanded Lake County's Special Response Team, an appointment he got because of his purported combat experience. He told Read to position himself in a place that Read felt was unsafe. Later, Read told Duryee that his order violated Read's basic S.W.A.T. training. According to Read, Duryee said, "Sometimes it's like being in the military...You just do what you are told no matter what."

So Read filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and learned that Duryee had never served in the military. In May 2010, Read submitted a complaint to POST. "Duryee's lies, and the fact that he was in leadership because of those lies, put other deputies in jeopardy," he wrote.

Also in May 2010, Michael Gehl, another Lake County officer, wrote a letter to POST Director Wayne Ternes about "a matter which has affected the very foundation of the Lake County Sheriff's Office." He wrote that Duryee had built a career on "fabrications, lies, deceit, [and] intimidation."

Read's and Gehl's were two of several complaints POST received about Duryee's lies. POST began an investigation and interviewed 13 of Duryee's colleagues and acquaintances. Their statements made it "very clear that Daniel Duryee has made false claims of military service from at least 1997 until as late as June 2009," POST reported.

"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.

click to enlarge Some 4,000 rounds of ammunition donated to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office went missing.
  • Some 4,000 rounds of ammunition donated to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office went missing.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office did its own internal investigation, led by Undersheriff Jay Doyle. It also found that Duryee lied. And then Duryee acknowledged it himself. On Sept. 3, 2010, he wrote to the sheriff that once, several years ago, he had told a "fish story" about serving in the military. "This was a lie...I make no excuses for what I did. It was wrong and disrespectful. I deeply regret this story."

Then Duryee attempted to prove that his accusers had harassed and defamed him as part of a larger, politically motivated effort to "smear the name of Jay Doyle." At the time, Doyle was running for sheriff.

POST recommended that it revoke 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.

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.

Ternes, the POST director, disagreed, insisting on sanctions, including that Duryee receive a psychological evaluation to determine whether he was fit for duty.

Sheriff Lucky Larson complied, scheduling the evaluation and placing Duryee on administrative leave on Aug. 25, 2010.

A psychologist based in Flathead County reported back that Duryee did not "exhibit indications of acute or personality-based psychopathology." Instead, the psychologist chalked Duryee's lies up to "immaturity" and found him fit for duty. Larson reinstated Duryee a couple of weeks later. "The investigation is complete," Larson told the Lake County Leader. "We complied with all of the state's requests."

Ternes appeared satisfied—until a March 2011 phone call with the psychologist. Ternes came to believe, as he wrote in a subsequent letter to the psychologist, that the Lake County Sheriff's Office had failed to tell the psychologist the extent of Duryee's lies. If it had, Ternes felt, the psychologist wouldn't have written them off as mere immaturity.

There were signs that Duryee was—and is—unfit for duty. They concerned Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Kendley. In August 2010, Kendley told Sheriff Lucky Larson that he feared Duryee would retaliate against him, his family and/or co-workers because he was one of Duryee's accusers. Larson asked Kendley to put that in writing. Kendley's four-page letter, dated August 20, 2010, explains why he believes Duryee is unstable.

In addition to Duryee's made-up war stories, Kendley recalled that earlier in 2010, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had investigated Duryee for manufacturing and possessing an illegal machine gun. The agency seized the alleged gun from Duryee's home but never charged him with a crime. Kendley also noted that Duryee was interviewed by the state attorney general's office in connection with the purported disappearance of 4,000 rounds of ammunition from the sheriff's office.

"To my knowledge, Sgt. Duryee has never expressed any remorse, nor has he ever been held accountable for any of these actions," Kendley wrote. Instead, he continued, Duryee's rank as a patrol sergeant and his seat on the Sheriff's Office Interview Board, among other posts, "gives the appearance that Sgt. Duryee is without fault, honorable and will continue to flourish in this office."

POST's investigation of Duryee remains open. It also uncovered other alleged misconduct by Duryee. Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Carlson 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.

Duryee is still on the force in Lake County. Sheriff Jay Doyle says the decision to retain Duryee was made after consulting with the Lake County attorney's office and the state attorney general's office.

POST Director Ternes says he cannot speak to specific cases. But, he says, "We've had numerous complaints filed by citizens up there in [Lake County], and so we're just having to go through them one by one and deal with them. It's up and down the valley, including tribal officers."

Lake County Attorney Mitch Young did not return calls seeking comment, but he made clear during an August POST Council meeting in Helena that he's had enough of POST's presence in Lake County. He expressed particular annoyance that Ternes questioned the psychologist's opinion of Duryee and reopened his case.

"The problem is this," Young said. "You folks have a job to do. We understand and respect that. But it needs to be done right."

In a recording of the meeting Ternes can be heard saying, "Absolutely."

"If you want to be respected," Young continued, "you have to behave in a respectable manner, and that hasn't happened...and I'm hoping that will change."


Terry Leonard is a veteran who remains in the U.S. Army Reserve. He was the original owner of the Flathead Lake Brewing Co., and he served for seven years in the Lake County Sheriff's Office, six as a reserve deputy and, beginning in 2009, for one year as a deputy.

"When I came on board," Leonard says, "I started hearing these things that I thought were ridiculous—and it turned out that they weren't."

Leonard had known about the Coyote Club camps; he even gave them beer from his brewery, he says. But it wasn't until he became a deputy and was around the office more that he learned what actually went on at those camps, he says, and of other misconduct.

So Leonard spoke up. And Sheriff Lucky Larson fired him.

Larson would only say that Leonard failed to make probation.

Leonard kept talking. He founded Concerned Citizens of Lake County and created two websites, www.asksherifflucky-larson.com and www.nojaydoylesheriff.com. The sites disseminated some of the allegations in this story. Leonard also made claims about missing ammunition and misspent funds.

It was election season. Along with Jay Doyle, deputies Steve Kendley and Dan Yonkin were also vying to replace Sheriff Larson, who was retiring.

On April 13, 2010, Doyle's campaign treasurer filed a complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices alleging that Leonard's website violated election laws by campaigning anonymously.

Lake County Attorney Mitch Young also expressed concern about the websites possibly violating election laws. But, as Young wrote in a March 2010 letter to John Strandell, chief of the Investigation Bureau in Montana's Division of Criminal Investigation, he recognized that "Because the Lake County Sheriff's Office and/or its members are the subject of these allegations, the sheriff's office has a clear conflict of interest in the investigation of these matters."

That didn't stop Young from applying for a warrant to search Leonard's house in September 2010. Leonard was suspected of having committed the misdemeanor crimes of "election materials not to be anonymous, and criminal defamation." District Judge C.B. McNeil signed the warrant.

In October 2010, Lake County officers raided Leonard's home and seized all of his family's computers and electronic media, where they assumed the information on Leonard's websites was stored. There was no further explanation or investigation. Most of the property was returned five months later, Leonard says, and only because his attorney demanded its return.

Leonard's attorney, Rich Buley, of Missoula, observes that in his 30 years of criminal defense work, "I have never seen a search warrant for investigating a misdemeanor."

Informants told FWP that Lake County Sheriff’s personnel conspired to conceal the possible involvement of a deputy in the 2004 boating accident on Flathead Lake that killed Laura Lee Grant. - PHOTO BY STEELE WILLIAMS
  • Photo by Steele Williams
  • Informants told FWP that Lake County Sheriff’s personnel conspired to conceal the possible involvement of a deputy in the 2004 boating accident on Flathead Lake that killed Laura Lee Grant.

Leonard says the Lake County Sheriff's Office "had no intention of seeing justice done or even conducting a proper investigation with due diligence. It was simply a strong-arm tactic to send a message of fear and intimidation... Basically, 'Don't question what we are doing here in Lake County. Don't bring attention to us. Don't point out the corruption—or we will come to your home, search it and seize your property.'"

Jay Doyle won the election.

Last month, Commissioner of Political Practices David Gallik concluded that there was insufficient evidence that Leonard had violated election laws.

Leonard contends that the culture of corruption in Lake County is based on "mutual guilt knowledge...It's, 'Hey, I know you did this wrong, and you know I did this wrong, so let's just pretend it didn't happen—keep your mouth shut.' That's exactly what's happened. It's propagated itself. It's become this unstoppable machine."

And that, Leonard says, has real on-the-ground consequences for law enforcement.

"If a murderer goes free because some jackass cop is a liar, you got a guy who kills people on the streets again."

Leonard is still unemployed.

That's how it works

On January 31, 2011, at 11 a.m., in the state Justice Building in Helena, two FWP game wardens and two Lake County Sheriff's deputies met with Attorney General Steve Bullock to present allegations of misconduct by Lake County law enforcement officers.

According to the two deputies, who asked to remain anonymous, Bullock seemed uninterested. They say Mike Batista, the administrator of the state's Division of Criminal Investigation, who also attended the meeting, was dismissive.

"My sense," says one of the deputies, "was that unless the sheriff or the county attorney asked them to look at it, they were not going to look at it."

Batista tells the Independent that is, in fact, generally how it works. In a case like the boating accident, he says, if a county attorney doesn't find anything wrong with an investigation, there would be no reason for the attorney general's office to get involved.

A similar dynamic applies to hunting violations, Batista says. FWP typically refers cases to local prosecutors, and those cases also land on the county attorney's desk.

"A request for assistance needs to come from the sheriff or the police chief or county attorney," Batista says. "And if an allegation is made against an employee of a sheriff's department, we have a responsibility to inform the sheriff of that, first and foremost. And then if there's credibility to the allegation, in many cases—nine times out of 10—they do the right thing and ask for an outside investigation either by us, a neighboring county or, in some cases, one of the federal agencies."

When one of the deputies heard this during their meeting with Batista and Bullock, he pointed to the Montana statute that states that it's the duty of the attorney general to "exercise supervisory powers over the county attorneys in all matters pertaining to the duties of their office," including "the power to order and direct county attorneys in all matters pertaining to the duties of their office."

The other deputy says he turned to Bullock at that point and said that if the attorney general's office doesn't act without consent from the sheriff or county attorney, it appears that sheriffs and county attorneys can "get away with murder.

"And he said, 'Well, I hate to think that.'

"And I said, 'Well, I think that.'"

Batista says that what the deputies and game wardens presented were "allegations without a lot of detail, some of which had been addressed."

Lake County had asked the attorney general's office to investigate the machine gun that Dan Duryee allegedly made. The state also looked into the 4,000 rounds of missing ammunition. "The reason nothing happened is there was no evidence," says Montana attorney general's office spokesperson Judy Beck.

A week after the deputies' meeting with Batista and Bullock, the Lake County Sheriff's Office attempted to reprimand them for attending it, they say, a charge that Sheriff Doyle denies. One deputy says he was charged with conduct unbecoming of an officer, bringing disrepute on the office and disobeying a direct order. The charges weren't ultimately pursued.

The other deputy says he was demoted to what he says is effectively a detention officer's position. Instead of investigating crimes, as he used to, he handles the violent sexual offender registry and walk-in complaints. He sits at a tiny desk that's monitored by a live video camera. "I call it the penalty box," he says.

Sheriff Doyle maintains that he's attempted to change the culture in the Lake County Sheriff's Office since he was sworn in 11 months ago. "That's my whole intent," he says. "And it seems that I have got personnel who thrive on mayhem. There seems to be people who love to throw out allegations. Everything they are alleging has already been investigated—fully."

Though at least one criminal investigation may be just beginning: Batista says the attorney general's office recently received a request from Doyle to review an allegation of perjury by Undersheriff Karey Reynolds. POST found that Reynolds has misrepresented his work history, claiming he hadn't had a break in service of more than three years when in fact it may have been as long as a decade.

In May, POST ordered Reynolds to return to basic training. He's in the 12-week course now.

Clarification: Jason Van Voast says he did not speak to FWP investigators regarding alleged hunting violations. FWP stands by the information that the Independent obtained.
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