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Kalispell Man, Accused of Impersonating Merle Haggard’s Son, Pleads Not Guilty

By Beacon Staff

A Kalispell man has been accused of chartering a private jet to Mexico while impersonating the son of country music legend Merle Haggard and then charging the $61,000 bill to a companion’s credit card.

Mark G. Sams, 49, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, Sams introduced himself to the alleged victim as Noel Haggard in April 2007. He told the alleged victim he had been a Learjet pilot with Clay Lacy Aviation for 20 years, but had to stop flying because he had developed Parkinson’s disease.

Court documents state that Sams said he could use a six-figure line of credit with the company that he had accrued through previous business dealings to arrange a paid trip to Mexico for himself, his roommate, the victim and the victim’s mother. They took the trip in June 2007.

But prosecutors say that when the alleged victim’s credit card bill arrived at the end of the month, it included a $61,000 charge for the chartered jet. Prosecutors also say that Sams impersonated Noel Haggard throughout his dealings with Clay Lacy Aviation and provided the company with the stolen credit card information to pay for the trip.

Sams was arrested in Ronan in July 2007 for allegedly signing autographs and charging a fee for people to take pictures with him — again while impersonating Noel Haggard. Police said Sams acknowledged signing autographs and posing for pictures using Noel Haggard’s name but denied accepting money for them.