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Not guilty pleas to drug charges


August 30, 2018

Two defendants made their initial appearances in court Tuesday on drug charges stemming from a traffic stop Aug. 10.

Steven Ely, from Ronan, is charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, a felony, and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Ronald Clapper, from Elmo, is charged with felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, as well as criminal possession of dangerous drugs, a misdemeanor.

Montana Highway Patrol conducted a traffic stop along Highway 200 between Perma and Dixon in the early morning hours of August 10. Ely was driving the vehicle stopped and Clapper was a passenger.

Charging documents show that Ely was on probation, and then the MHP trooper called the on-call probation officer, he was advised to search the vehicle. Substances found in the vehicle, according to court documents, included more than 12 grams of methamphetamine.

Both Ely and Clapper pleaded not guilty to their respective charges on Tuesday.

Judge James Manley denied release for both defendants, saying that they both presented a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Both Ely and Clapper are being held at the Sanders County Jail.


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