A man accused of stealing expensive equipment from a local stone company pleaded not guilty to felony theft, as well as other felonies related to drugs allegedly found at his residence.
Christopher Hogard pleaded not guilty to four felonies – theft, two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs, and the operation of an unlawful clandestine laboratory – on Oct. 17 in Flathead County District Court.
The case began on Sept. 16, when an employee from Glacier Stone Supply in Kalispell called to report that thousands of dollars worth of equipment belonging to employees had been stolen sometime between Sept. 13 and Sept. 16, along with a service truck.
According to charging documents, on Sept. 23, the employee contacted the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office again to report that he had seen one of the stolen tools at a local pawn shop. An employee at the pawn shop reported that Hogard had pawned the tool, and said he’d be back to pawn additional items.
Soon after, officers received another call indicating Hogard was at the pawn shop. Upon arrival, officers asked Hogard if they could search his backpack, where they found additional tools identified as those stolen from Glacier Stone Supply, prosecutors say.
The total value of tools in Hogard’s possession that day was more than $1,500.
After receiving a search warrant for Hogard’s residence, officers reported locating other items allegedly from a different burglary that took place on Sept. 20, as well as other tools connected to various theft reports.
Officers also reported finding 165.88 grams – nearly six ounces – of marijuana, and a syringe and cotton ball which tested positive for methamphetamine. The officers also allegedly found what they believed to be components for making meth; upon this discovery, they left the residence and called the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force.
An agent from the task force used a warrant to search the house, finding a meth lab, prosecutors say. A meth cleanup crew was called in to dispose of the lab chemicals found there.
If convicted of the charges against him, Hogard could face up to 60 years in prison and $175,000 in fines. As of Oct. 18, he was in custody at the Flathead County Detention Center, and if his case goes to trial, it is scheduled for February.
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