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Plains man headed to prison for string of burglaries, thefts

The Western News | September 14, 2021 7:00 AM

A Northwest Montana man involved in a series of burglaries and thefts with several other individuals is headed to prison after he was sentenced Sept. 2 in Flathead County District Court.

Mitchell Bear Raymond, 26, of Plains, pleaded guilty to burglary and bail-jumping in August. He was sentenced Sept. 2 to a five-year prison sentence on the burglary charge and a sixmonth suspended sentence in the Flathead County Detention Center for bail-jumping.

Raymond was scheduled to stand trial in January, but he didn’t appear and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was then charged with bail-jumping.

Raymond’s sentence will be served concurrently with sentences out of Lake, Sanders and Lincoln counties for offenses involving theft, drug possession and criminal endangerment.

Flathead County District Judge Heidi Ulbricht said Raymond also will have to pay $6,890 in restitution.

Raymond received credit for time served, 96 days, in the Flathead County jail.

One of Raymond’s co-conspirators, Andrew Ornalee Kruse, was also part of the discussion in court last week.

Kruse was accused of stealing many items from the Barker residence in Bigfork during a burglary sometime in June or July 2019. He eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and received a six-month suspended sentence in the Flathead County jail. He is on probation for the theft offense as well as a threeyear suspended sentence for drug possession and a suspended sentence for assault of a partner or family member.

Flathead County victim advocate Hannah Riley read a statement on behalf of the Barker family, noting the tools were considered antiques and collectibles and were part of the family’s legacy.

The connection between Kruse and Raymond came to light when correspondence between Raymond and another person indicated Raymond had several items from the Bigfork burglary in a vehicle he owned.

The agreement calls for Raymond’s five-year sentence in Flathead County to be served concurrently with three cases in Lake County and one each in Sanders and Lincoln counties.

In Lake County, Raymond, according to a story in the Valley Journal, was sentenced in May 2021 to six years deferred on felony burglary and theft charges and two years deferred for possessing methamphetamine.

In Sanders County, Raymond pleaded guilty to drug possession.

Raymond faced a criminal endangerment charge in Lincoln County after a high-speed chase in November 2020 that began in Plains, entered Flathead and Lincoln counties and eventually ended in Sanders County.

Sanders County authorities stopped the truck Raymond was in, but he escaped on foot before being arrested by agents with the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force and booked into the Flathead County Detention Center on Feb. 3. His bond was set at $310,520, the total for the various warrants.

In Lake County, Raymond was reported to be one of five co-defendants involved in a series of home burglaries and storage units in 2018. Two of his co-defendants, Eugene Thomas Germain and Brandon Tollie, were sentenced to lengthy state prison terms.