A Libby man was sentenced Oct. 29 in Montana 19th Judicial District Court to eight years in prison with three suspended and $25,830 in restitution after pleading guilty by Alford plea to felony theft.
Jacob Hogsett was ordered to pay the restitution jointly and severally with Hogsett’s cousin, Kevin Mitchell. Hogsett’s sentence is to run concurrent with sentences Hogsett is serving for charges in Flathead and Lincoln counties.
Hogsett was on probation in Flathead County, and his probation there was revoked on Aug. 14. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison with credit for six years and 103 days for time on probation and time served.
Hogsett was originally charged with two felony counts of burglary and two counts of felony theft for incidents that took place in November 2017 and January 2018.
According to an affidavit by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Detective David Hall, a vehicle registered to Hogsett was caught on video entering a Troy driveway on Jan. 13 and 14, 2018 where a burglary was reported while the homeowners were in Arizona.
Further investigation by Hall showed that both Mitchell and Hogsett were former employees of a company that installed heat pumps at the residence, and that Hogsett had been the last employee to do work there.
Hall determined that the suspects had gained entry with hidden keys that they replaced after they were done.
Hall noted that deputies were familiar with Hogsett’s vehicle from his involvement in drug activity and his felony probation status.
When the incident was reported to Lincoln County Adult Probation Officer Steve Watson, Watson located Hogsett and seized a metal gun case from Hogsett’s vehicle. As a felon, Hogsett was prohibited from possessing firearms.
Hogsett told law enforcement the gun case belonged to Mitchell, yet law enforcement found identifying information in the case for the burglary victim.
According to Hall’s affidavit, Sgt. Brandon Holzer also observed binoculars and pry tools in Hogsett’s vehicle, which had been impounded.
Holzer also seized Mitchell’s Chevy pickup, which was at Hogsett’s residence, according to the affidavit. During Watson’s probation check, Holzer had observed tools and ammunition in the truck consistent with items stolen from the Troy residence.
Around the time Mitchell’s vehicle was seized, Flathead County Sheriff’s SWAT officers were pursuing him on foot in Flathead County related to a burglary there. Mitchell was eventually taken into custody after a standoff with law enforcement.
On Jan. 17, Jerry Mitchell approached Hall with a statement that on Jan. 15 he had found Kevin Mitchell in his apartment donning a tuxedo that belonged to Jerry Mitchell, loading a 12-gauge shotgun and saying that people were after him.
Kevin Mitchell took a car that he shared ownership of with Jerry Mitchell and departed for Flathead County.
When Hall accompanied Jerry Mitchell to his residence, Mitchell handed over the clothing Kevin Mitchell had left when he took the tuxedo, according to Hall’s affidavit. The clothing match what was worn by one of the burglary suspects recorded on game cameras at the Troy residence.
Hall also recovered further property at the residence belonging to the burglary victims.
Hall then contacted the owner of the company Hogsett and Mitchell had worked at installing heat pumps, and discovered Hogsett had done work at another residence that was reported burglarized on Dec. 12, 2017.
Hall asked that tracking information from Hogsett’s vehicle that had been recorded for a drug investigation be reviewed, and it showed that Hogsett’s Escalade had been at the victim’s residence at 2 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2017.
In May, Hogsett’s attorney Scott B. Johnson tried to severe Hogsett from the charges for the January burglary, claiming that the only evidence tying Hogsett to the crime was footage of his vehicle, and noting that Mitchell had pleaded guilty to the charges.
Concerning the November incident, Johnson stated that the state did not offer a time and date of the burglary to concur with the date and time Hogsett’s vehicle was at the residence. He also said there was no evidence Hogsett was driving the vehicle.
On June 13, Lincoln County Attorney Marcia Boris filed a motion to dismiss the theft and burglary charges for the 2017 burglary due to insufficient evidence to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offenses.”
On June 17, Hogsett was released on his own recognizance for the first time since his arrest.
By Oct. 15, Hogsett was being represented by attorney Glen Neier, who tried to subpoena a woman who he claimed would say Hogsett was at her residence from Jan. 12 to 15, and that whoever dropped him off had possession of his Escalade.
But on Oct. 16 Hogsett signed a plea of “guilty via Alford” to one count of felony theft, and Boris agreed to a sentence of eight years with three suspended and restitution. If convicted of both felony burglary and theft, he faced up to 30 years in prison and $60,000 in fines as the maximum sentence allowed.
In an Alford plea, the accused does not admit to committing the crime, but rather that the prosecution could likely convince a jury of guilt.