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County jail drug smuggler gets prison time

The Western News | November 28, 2023 7:00 AM

A Montana man accused of smuggling drugs into the Lincoln County Detention Center recently pleaded guilty to the offense.

At a court hearing on Sept. 25, Jesse William Gibson pleaded guilty to one count of transferring illegal articles. On Monday, Nov. 13, District Judge Matt Cuffe sentenced Gibson to 10 years, with seven suspended. 

Gibson, who received credit for serving 209 days in custody, spoke to the court and asked to be placed at the Pine Hills Correctional Facility in Miles City because he felt it would provide him the best chance at overcoming his addiction.

Gibson previously told District Judge Matt Cuffe he could pay fines over time.

Gibson was part of a group of county inmates accused of being involved in a drug smuggling case. One is Jason Allen Miller, the man accused of running over Montana Highway Patrol Tpr. Lewis Johnson in February.

Another, Matthew Manfred Priebe, 32, was sentenced and ordered to enroll in the Lincoln County Treatment Court after a Monday, July 17 court hearing.

Priebe was charged with one felony count of possession of dangerous drugs and transferring illegal articles, methamphetamine, into the county jail.

Priebe, through his attorney S. Charles Sprinkle, agreed to plead guilty to felony possession in May.

Judge Matt Cuffe delivered a 5-year suspended sentence per the terms of the plea deal with County Attorney Marcia Boris.

“I think this allows us to address a long-standing drug problem,” Cuffe said.

Priebe was ordered to attend and complete the county’s treatment program. He was given credit for serving 159 days in the county jail. Priebe is not allowed to gamble, be in bars or casinos, consume alcohol and illegal drugs. He must also pay $1,080 in fines and costs.

The sentence will run concurrently with convictions he has from cases in 2018 and 2019 for drug possession and burglary.

According to a supplemental narrative by county deputy James Derryberry, the case began on the evening of March 3 when detention Sgt. Adam Anderson told the officer he had spoken to an inmate in the jail about Gibson bringing meth into the jail by hiding it in his rectum.

The inmate, who has since been moved to a rehabilitation facility, said Gibson, Priebe and Miller were doing meth and conspiring to take over the jail. The inmate told Sgt. Anderson he didn’t want to be part of it and wanted out of his cell.

In the affidavit, Derryberry said he planned to gather other officers and deescalate the situation. Derryberry was assisted by fellow county deputies John Hyslop, Ben Fisher, Derek Breiland and Tony Jenson, as well as jail staff. Derryberry said he believed Gibson was under the influence of a dangerous drug. He said he couldn’t speak clearly, follow commands and had twitchy movements with his hands and face. The officer also said his behavior ranged from mild to severe agitation.

Derryberry then spoke to Miller in his cell. The inmate said he didn’t have any dope, there was no dope in his cell and his fellow inmates weren’t planning to take over the jail. When Derryberry heard Gibson becoming agitated, he asked Miller what was happening. Miller replied, “He’s coming off of dope.”

Later, detention officers moved Miller and Priebe into a secured video conference room. Derryberry then searched Gibson’s cell and found a small plastic Ziplock bag hanging off the end of a spork which was stuck into an air vent. The officer said the bag contained a white crystal residue inside it and a light, tinted brown substance smeared on it. The white substance field tested positive for meth.

The inmate who alerted authorities to the alleged offenses then spoke to Derryberry. The inmate said he told Gibson he could have his cell to sober up. He also said he and Gibson went into another cell where Gibson hung a blanket and claimed to have drugs. The inmate left Gibson’s cell and declined to do drugs. According to the inmate, Priebe said, “I’m trying to get (profanity) up.”

The inmate reported that after Gibson got the drugs out of his rectum, Miller, Priebe and Gibson went into a cell and got high. He also reported Priebe bought the dope from Gibson by trading commissary for it. He didn’t see the deal, but reported hearing it.