A Sidney Police officer on Jan. 30, 2020 arrested Aletha Ann Hart and charged her with criminal possession of a dangerous drug, methamphetamine, a felony. She was also charged with criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Hart made her initial appearance in the Richland County Justice Court/Sidney City Court for both charges.
An Information affidavit for the criminal possession of dangerous drugs charge was filed on Feb. 5, 2020 in the Montana 7th Judicial District Court by Charity McLarty, deputy county attorney for Richland County .
According to the Information affidavit, Sidney Police Officer Cole Selmo located Hart at a local lounge and casino at 8:51 p.m on January 30.
“Hart had an active warrant for her arrest, issued by the Sidney Court,” the affidavit stated. “Officer Selmo informed Hart of the warrant and that she was under arrest.”
After securing “Hart in loose fitting double locked handcuffs behind her back,” the affidavit stated, “Officer Selmo escorted Hart to the front of his patrol vehicle and performed a search.”
During the search, the Sidney Police officer reportedly discovered “a paper bindle in Hart’s right front pants pocket,” the affidavit stated, explaining that “the term ‘bindle’ is used to describe a piece of paper, usually magazine type paper, folded into a make-shift envelope to contain narcotics.”
The officer stated he “immediately recognized the bindle as contraband” and secured it, along with Hart’s “other property.”
The suspect was transported to the Richland County Detention Facility (RCDF), where Officer Selmo stated he “shook the bindle and he could hear rattling, which was consistent with it containing methamphetamine,” according to the Information affidavit.
Selmo seized the bindle as evidence, along with the suspect’s other property, and turned them over to RCDF staff.
“Officer Selmo brought the bindle into the Evidence Processing Room at the Richland County Law and Justice Center” and photographed it.
“I opened it,” the officer stated, “and found it to contain a small amount of crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine.”
The substance was tested and found to be “presumptive positive for methamphetamine,” the affidavit stated.
Hart was charged with possession of an illegal and dangerous Schedule II drug within the city of Sidney, Richland County, Mont. and booked into jail.
If found guilty of the drug possession charge, the suspect faces up to five years imprisonment and/or up to a $5,000 fine. The drug paraphernalia charge carries a maximum jail sentence of up to six months and a fine not to exceed $500.
As of press time, the defendant had not entered a plea.
District Court Judge Katherine M. Bidegaray established an Entry of Plea date for Monday, Feb. 24. Judge Bidegaray scheduled an Omnibus Hearing for March 9, and set a trial date of Aug. 17, 2020.