Arrest warrant issued for Libby fraud suspect
The Western News | February 9, 2024 7:00 AM
An arrest warrant has been issued for a Libby man accused of passing counterfeit money, fake silver coins and sports cards at area businesses on multiple occasions in 2023 after he failed to appear in court earlier this week.
William Hoyle Beck, 43, is facing three counts of forgery, including two felonies. Beck was scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on Jan. 29 in Lincoln County District Court. But he didn’t appear.
Public defender Ben Kolter didn’t have any information on Beck’s whereabouts. Judge Matt Cuffe asked if Beck had bonded out and county Attorney Marcia Boris said she assumed he did, but said there was no record of it.
Justice Court Judge Jay Sheffield had issued a $40,000 bond, but court records indicated Beck was booked and released on Jan. 2.
When Beck wasn’t in court for arraignment on Monday, Kolter said he hadn’t been successful in contacting his client.
Cuffe then ordered a bench warrant for Beck’s arrest.
The cases against Beck were investigated by two Libby City police officers and a detective from the county Sheriff’s Office.
It began on Jan. 10, 2023, when Joshua Brabo, then a city officer, received a report of counterfeit money being used at the Kaiju Casino in Libby. A casino manager said he noticed the fake currency when he was counting money from the previous night. Brabo looked at security camera footage and reported he could clearly see the suspect, Beck, exchange four $20 bills for $80 in $5 bills. The $20 bills were marked “for motion pictures purposes.” The money is used for movie props.
The casino manager said Beck submitted a job application and listed 401 Montana Ave. as his address. Sheila Butts, a Kaiju employee, has also lived at the address. Beck was seen entering the casino on the night of Jan. 9, exchange a fake $20 bill for four $5 bills. Butts is seen looking at the $20 bill, but continued the exchange, according to Brabo’s affidavit. Beck is seen on video at a gambling machine using the money to play. Later, he cashed out as Butts handled the transaction.
Beck left, then came back and exchanged three more alleged fake $20 bills for $60 in $5 bills with Butts. Beck then allegedly handed Butts an unknown amount of cash which she placed in a hand bag under the counter at the bar. Beck played a different gambling machine before cashing out as Butts handled the transaction.
Brabo reported that he suspected Butts was aware of the fraudulent bills and is on probation for a felony conviction for theft in Flathead County.
According to prior reporting in the Daily Inter Lake, Butts was accused of stealing $70,000 worth of jewelry from a Martin City residence in 2018. Butts has a 2016 drug conviction where she was caught with crystal methamphetamine in a vehicle she was driving where an infant child was present.
Brabo then spoke to Probation Officer Steve Watson and got authorization to search Butt’s belongings. Brabo interviewed Butts on Jan. 18 at the casino. A search didn’t produce anything of significance and Brabo asked her about her relationship with Beck. She allegedly said she used to have an intimate relationship with Beck’s younger brother, Ernest A. Pattee. Pattee is currently on parole for a 2017 conviction in Flathead County for a conviction on a criminal endangerment charge that resulted from a police chase.
Butts allegedly told Brabo she used to live at the 401 Montana Ave. residence and knew of Beck. Butts told Brabo she didn’t know the bills were fake. She also said she believed Beck was living at the Evergreen Motel in Libby.
Later in the year, Libby police officer Caleb Thomas received a report on Aug. 8 that an employee at the Kaiju Casino believed Beck had exchanged nine counterfeit $100 bills for $900 in genuine $20 bills. The employee gave Thomas the fake bills which he reported were clearly marked, “for motion picture purposes.” Thomas attempted to watch security camera footage, but the video wouldn’t play.
Then, on Sept. 24, 2023, county Detective Brandon Holzer spoke with the owners of Libby Pawn. They said they bought 77 coins and sports cards from Beck over time. They said Beck told them the coins were silver dollars and the cards were rare. They later determined the items were fake. Holzer reported the items were very realistic.
Beck refused to speak to the detective when he approached him outside a grocery store.
A conviction for felony forgery may result in a 1-year prison term and a $1,500 fine. A conviction for misdemeanor forgery may result in a $500 fine.
In a separate case, Butts pleaded guilty on Jan. 16 to possessing dangerous drugs and paraphernalia. A plea deal calls for her to get a 5-year suspended sentence. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 26 in Lincoln County.