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To serve and deflect

Lake County cops mostly avoided punishment after being accused of abusing their power. The investigators who went after them weren't so lucky.

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During the hearing, former Sen. Jim Shockley, R-Victor, who chaired the committee (and who was in the middle of a failed bid for attorney general), tried to understand why FWP couldn't release Darrah's report exonerating Bowen. Shockley said he'd "never heard of a complaint being public but the dismissal secret." FWP Chief Legal Counsel Rebecca Jakes Dockter said Bowen himself was allowed to release a redacted version of the report, but his supervisors told him in private that doing so would be "a violation of a direct order and punishable by being fired," as Bowen told the Independent at the time.

The Independent filed an open records request for Darrah's report, which FWP rejected. But the Independent recently obtained the report and several other documents related to Bowen's cases after they were subpoenaed as part of a federal lawsuit filed in February 2012 accusing four officers in the Lake County Sheriff's Office—Sheriff Jay Doyle, Undersheriff Dan Yonkin, Lt. Mike Sargeant and Sgt. Dan Duryee—of organized crime.

In his report, Darrah called Young's mass-emailed complaint about Bowen "totally inappropriate," with "potential detrimental effects to not only Warden Frank Bowen, but to FWP in general."

Darrah continued: "It appears that County Attorney Mitch Young is trying to discredit Warden Frank Bowen in every way possible. This seems inappropriate from a prosecutor's office, maybe from a defense attorney I would expect such a thing."

Darrah accused Young of tampering with a witness when Young quizzed the witness on what she'd told Bowen. Darrah also criticized Young for accusing Bowen of "operating on hearsay evidence" when "it appears that is exactly what County Attorney Mitch Young is doing here."

"Personally I feel that County Attorney Mitch Young is trying to kill Frank Bowen's credibility and thus have this case go away with possibly several others," Darrah concluded.

In the weeks following the June 2012 hearing, Bowen asked his supervisors to report Darrah's findings and Young's alleged misconduct to Bullock's office. They equivocated. Bowen decided he would deliver the document himself, but Satterfield warned that doing so would be insubordination and grounds for termination. Satterfield penned a letter to Bowen summarizing his "oral warning regarding unauthorized release of FWP complaints to other agencies." Satterfield wrote, "Any and all information obtained by means of your official capacity as a game warden cannot be used on a personal basis." The letter also noted that Bowen was no longer authorized to talk with POST about any investigations.

In Bowen's grievance before the Board of Personnel Appeals, he called Satterfield's demands "a virtual gag order."

Meanwhile, Bowen was temporarily reassigned as a FWP warden to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. In a memo to Bowen dated Aug. 14, 2012, Warden Captain Anderson said the move was in Bowen's and the FWP's best interest, given the POST investigation and the "unwillingness of County Attorney Mitch Young to prosecute any of your cases, combined with threats to your personal safety," among other reasons. The memo ordered Bowen "not to conduct any work activities in the Polson warden district." Anderson made the reassignment permanent effective Jan. 28, 2013.

As for Bowen's grievance before the Board of Personnel Appeals, he and FWP reached a settlement agreement last month. The June 11 document acknowledges that Satterfield threatened to fire Bowen for being honest.

"It is not within legitimate management directives for supervisors to direct employees to tell less than the truth or the whole truth," the settlement reads. "Threats of losing one's job can be intimidating and are not to be used."

The settlement goes on to note Bowen's first-rate record as a game warden. "He consistently met expectations of his supervisors in all categories and exceeded expectations in numerous categories," it states. "We regret any misleading statements construed by the public as unflattering and damaging to your reputation."

Satterfield did not respond to a request for comment.

Mitch Young and the three other county attorneys have still not prosecuted any of Bowen's poaching cases.


•••

Around the time Frank Bowen began taking sworn statements from Lake County Sheriff's Office deputies and detectives about the Coyote Club, in fall 2010, POST Director Wayne Ternes started building a case against Lake County Sgt. Dan Duryee.

Duryee, who had worked in the department since 1998, lied about serving in the military. One former colleague testified to POST that Duryee claimed to have been "a U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant in Iraq during the first Gulf War" and that he had "seen combat, lost members of his unit in battle, and had killed enemy combatants." Another person testified that Duryee claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Early on in POST's investigation, Ternes wrote, "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. It is also evident that Duryee was given command of the Special Response Team" based on those claims.

Duryee, in a September 2010 letter to Sheriff Lucky Larson, admitted to lying, though only once, calling it a "fish story."

Ternes' case against Duryee was the first of seven POST would file against Lake County officers.

Former Lake County Sgt. Dan Duryee
  • Former Lake County Sgt. Dan Duryee

But before Duryee's or any of the other cases went to a hearing, Ternes, like Bowen, himself became the subject of an investigation.

At the same June 2012 Law and Justice Interim Committee hearing at which Bowen was ordered to deliver a half-truth testimony, Ternes requested that the committee draft legislation that would help POST investigate allegations against officers. He proposed to designate POST a criminal justice agency and grant it investigative authority.

The committee chairman, at least, supported the proposals, but they were met with stiff resistance from state law enforcement associations. Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir, president of the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police, wrote a letter to POST Council in July 2012 stating that Ternes' requests amounted to a "power grab." Muir told the Independent at the time that he didn't want POST to "just come in and flex the licensing authority," and that it should remain "strictly an administrative agency."

POST Council subsequently placed Ternes on administrative leave while a Helena-based human resources consultant investigated Ternes' job performance.

In October 2012, the consultant, Jim Kerins, completed a 214-page report informed by 24 interviews with people who had worked with Ternes—mostly sheriffs, police chiefs, city and county attorneys and current and former POST Council members. They voiced a number of complaints, among them the fact that Ternes proposed legislation without approval of the POST Council. Others complained about "office administration issues that were not addressed in an effective or timely manner."

"Instead of returning phone calls, updating training records, and maintaining the certification program, he wants to police the police, and go out and investigate law enforcement," said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin.

Montana Police Protective Association Director Jerry Williams said POST had spent "much more time on investigations as opposed to doing what they are supposed to be doing—providing and certifying training."

The word "trust"—as in, the lack of it—appears 55 times in the report. But Jim Smith, the Libby police chief and a POST Council member, said, "If trust is broken with MACOP and MPPA, so what? We don't work for MACOP and MPPA, we work for the citizens of Montana."

Sarah Hart, the assistant attorney general and POST counsel, tried to put the differing views into perspective when interviewed for the report. "I think Wayne Ternes needs a slap on the wrist...But I think the big thing is local agencies don't like being regulated. I think they don't like it at all, and are taking it out on Wayne," she said.

In other words, police don't think they need any policing.

Ternes defended himself in the report. He was quoted as saying, "I am not here to make friends and I am not here for political reasons." He called the Lake County situation "the stuff movies are made of." He said the former Lake County sheriff, Lucky Larson, warned him to steer clear of the county "because it wouldn't be safe."

"What kind of thing is that to say to a state official?" asked Ternes. "There is stuff we've been privy to and information that needs to go through the process."

In January of this year, Ternes received a pre-termination notice. He responded with a letter to POST Council Chairman Hal Harper largely denying the complaints against him. He also called his performance review "one-sided" and based on "agencies that we currently had open complaints against specific officers."

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