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Ballard sentenced on endangerment, possession charges

Daily Inter Lake | November 2, 2021 7:00 AM

Wallace Ballard will spend the next five years with the state Department of Corrections after his Oct. 18 sentencing in Lincoln County District Court.

Prosecutors initially had charged Ballard, 53, with felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs after he arrived at a Troy home as local law enforcement executed a search warrant in late 2020. He picked up a felony criminal endangerment charge after nearly causing a traffic accident with Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies in an unmarked vehicle in February while on pre-trial release.

Ballard, who pleaded guilty to both charges after reaching a deal with prosecutors in September, earned five years for the possession charge and a suspended, 10-year sentence for criminal endangerment. The sentences will run concurrent, meaning Ballard will spend a decade under supervision.

“I’m sorry for my lifestyle,” an apologetic Ballard told the court during his sentencing. “I need to change.”

Authorities arrested Ballard in December 2020 after searching his person at the scene of a police raid in Troy. Law enforcement officials came across a container storing a white crystalline substance that tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine.

While out on pre-trial release, Ballard unwittingly crossed paths with detectives Dan Holskey and Brandon Holzer of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. According to court documents, the pair came across Ballard in the parking lot of the weigh scales near Troy on Feb. 12. Located at the intersection of state Highway 56 and U.S. Highway 2, the pair knew the spot as “a great meet point for Idaho and western Montana” for narcotics deals, Holzer wrote in an affidavit.

Spotting Ballard, they parked their unmarked vehicle nearby to keep an eye on him. But a Troy Police Department vehicle later passing through the lot apparently spooked Ballard. As he tried to leave, Holzer and Holskey beat him to the exit.

The two vehicles headed westbound on U.S. Highway 2 with Ballard following the detectives closely. He tailgated them through Troy, Holzer wrote.

When they reached the Kootenai River Bridge, Ballard passed the law enforcement vehicle at high speeds and then swung back into the westbound lane “dangerously close” to the detectives, Holzer wrote. He then slammed on the brakes, forcing Holzer to decide whether to swerve or ram Ballard’s vehicle, court documents said.

Ballard sped up prior to impact, Holzer wrote, and seemed to want a confrontation. Holzer hit the vehicle’s lights and pulled Ballard over. Ballard exited his vehicle after stopping in a nearby parking lot, yelling expletives at the lawmen. Holzer and Holskey ordered Ballard to the ground as they drew their firearms. Ballard complied, later telling investigators he was unaware the vehicle in front of him contained detectives.

The mistake earned Ballard the criminal endangerment charge. He initially pleaded not guilty to both charges before reaching the deal with prosecutors.

While handing down the sentence last month, District Judge Matthew Cuffe described the deal as appropriate given the circumstances.