The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that a 27-year-old man who broke into and destroyed a Kalispell health clinic will not have to pay more than $61,000 in lost social security benefits to the victim.
Despite the reduction, Zachary Kludt, who was sentenced to prison after vandalizing All Families Healthcare in Kalispell in 2014, will still have to pay more than $580,000 in restitution to Susan Cahill.
At the time of the break-in in March 2014, All Families Healthcare was the only abortion provider in Northwest Montana and many believed the crime was politically motivated because of Klundt’s family’s involvement with organizations protesting abortion.
A year after the break-in, Klundt pleaded guilty to theft, burglary and criminal mischief. In June 2015, he was sentenced to the Montana State Prison for 20 years with 15 years suspended.
He was was also ordered to pay Cahill $320,000 for three years of lost wages; $61,124 to cover a reduction of Social Security benefits because Cahill retired three years earlier than planned because of the incident; approximately $8,395 in reduced IRA contributions; $208,546 for damaged property and the value of the business; $1,575 for six months rent while she closed the business; $8,796 for the salary paid to her assistant after the clinic closed; $418 for a storage unit; more than $2,000 for counseling; $2,280 for a home alarm system and approximately $3,500 for other miscellaneous items.
In late 2016, Klundt filed an appeal arguing that the restitution was too high and that Cahill did not do enough to mitigate her own damages. On April 26, the Supreme Court affirmed most of the restitution except for the Social Security benefits, noting that the District Court had also awarded lost income for the same time period.
“We hold that the District Court properly awarded Cahill restitution for the loss of her business and for her lost income and retirement. The District Court improperly awarded Cahill restitution for ‘lost’ Social Security benefits,” the justices wrote.
According to charging documents, Klundt broke into All Families Healthcare in downtown Kalispell on the night of March 3, 2014 and vandalized the facility, damaging furniture, medical instruments and supplies, as well as filing cabinets. Additionally, officers found a yellow powder, later determined to be from a fire extinguisher, covering “almost everything.” Further investigation into the basement of the First Avenue East building revealed damage to the main sewer line, the furnace and the water heater. Officers also found damage on the outside door leading to the basement, consistent with someone trying to break in from the outside.
Klundt was arrested on the evening of March 4 after allegedly attempting to break into Bob’s Bail Bonds on South Main Street in Kalispell. He was charged with multiple counts of burglary, criminal mischief and theft and initially pleaded not guilty. In 2015, Klundt reversed his plea and admitted his role in the health clinic break-in. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop the charges related to the other break-in.
Klundt was sentenced in June 2015. Over the course of a three-day hearing, prosecutors argued the young man had targeted Cahill’s office because he was against abortion. Among the evidence presented to the judge was a text message from Klundt to his mother asking, “What is the abortionist’s name?”
Defense attorney Peter Leander argued that Klundt struggled with depression, drug addiction and alcohol and that his personal views had nothing to do with the break-in. Instead, the attorney argued, Klundt was trying to get drugs.