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State shop burglar gets prison time

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | February 9, 2024 7:00 AM

A Northwest Montana man who pleaded guilty in December to burglarizing a state Department of Transportation shop south of Libby in July 2022 was sentenced on Monday in Lincoln County District Court.

Colby Glenn O’Hara, 34, of Bigfork, first pleaded not guilty to one felony count of burglary and one misdemeanor count of theft in August. District Judge Matt Cuffe gave O'Hara an 8-year term with four years suspended. O'Hara received credit for serving 226 days in custody

O’Hara, who is lodged in the county jail on $40,000 bail, pleaded guilty to both offenses without benefit of a plea deal. Cuffe did not order O'Hara to pay $800 for his assigned counsel, but he must pay $85 in surcharges. A $500 fine was also suspended, but he must pay $1,100 in restitution.

"I'm deeply ashamed of my actions and I ask forgiveness from the Montana Department of Transportation," O'Hara said. "I was at the low point of my life and I hope I can get treatment so I can be a father to my son."

According to online court records, O’Hara was sentenced on another case in Flathead County on Dec. 21. He pleaded guilty to two felony burglary charges and received two 5-year deferred sentences, to be served concurrently.

O’Hara was also involved in a burglary in 2022 in Lake County.

According to a story in the Valley Journal newspaper in Lake County, O’Hara pleaded guilty in November 2022 to felony burglary after law officers alleged he broke into a state Department of Transportation facility on Montana 83. He was accused of trying to use a credit card taken from the location at an area gas station.

Montana Department of Corrections information indicates O’Hara received a 6-year deferred sentence on Feb. 8, 2023, for a burglary committed on July 1, 2022.

According to charging documents in the Lincoln County case, investigators used surveillance photos to identify possible suspects.

According to the supplemental narrative by Deputy John Hyslop, a woman called on July 11 to report that the shop at Crystal Creek had been broken into over the weekend and several items were stolen. Hyslop went to the shop and met with another woman who said someone had jimmied a sliding window open.

Both women worked at providing the deputy a list of the stolen items. They included various tools, a portable generator, drill press and two gas cards. A man who works for the state told Hyslop someone tried to use a gas card at two different gas stations.

County Det. Dave Hall retrieved photos of the gas pumps and possible suspects inside the store. Hall also got in contact with law enforcement in Flathead County about the suspects in Lincoln County.