Kalispell Man Admits to Trying to Escape County Jail

Zachary James Bergman was found trying to escape through a ceiling in the county jail

By Justin Franz

A 27-year-old Kalispell man pleaded guilty to felony attempted escape four months after guards found him in the ceiling above his cell in the Flathead County Detention Center.

Zachary James Bergman’s failed escape attempt from the Kalispell jail in October came one week after he successfully had escaped from the Mineral County jail.

Bergman appeared at a change of plea hearing on Feb. 2. He will be sentenced on March 23.

According to court documents, Bergman was found in the ceiling of his cell on Oct. 6. Jail officials determined Bergman had used a toothbrush, an eating utensil and a cup to make a hole in the ceiling. He was unable to go any further due to a security feature. Jail officials also found a letter in his cell apparently written before his failed attempt that stated, “They said nobody could get out of Alcatraz too but they did.”

The failed escape came after he was arrested near downtown Kalispell after escaping the Mineral County jail where he was arrested for allegedly stealing an automobile. In December, Bergman pleaded not guilty to charges of felony attempted escape and criminal mischief.

Bergman has a long criminal record that includes criminal endangerment, theft and DUI convictions in 2009 and 2013.

Earlier this year, Bergman took a plea deal in which he agreed to plead guilty to attempted escape. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the criminal mischief charge. According to the plea deal, prosecutors will give Bergman a six-year suspended sentence to the Montana State Prison for the escape that will run consecutively to his revoked sentences from his past convictions. The deal states that Bergman will receive a net 20-year sentence to the prison with 10 years suspended.