Alleged marijuana grow, guns and witness tampering charged
A man on probation for a felony drug case is back behind bars on new charges following the alleged discovery of a marijuana grow operation, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and guns in his home.
George Ostwald Jr., 52, is charged with two felony counts of criminal production of dangerous drugs and two felony counts of tampering with witnesses/informants. He appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court last Thursday and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In addition to the new charges, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke his 2011 sentence, based on alleged probation violations that include a felon being in possession of firearms and failing to keep in contact with his probation officer. Ostwald denied those allegations at last week’s court hearing.
Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde asked that bond be kept at $100,000 given “gravity of the charges.” Defense attorney Jeff Simkovic asked that his client be released on his own recognizances, suggesting that other family members were possibly responsible for the drugs discovered.
Judge Blair Jones set bail at $50,000, saying the combination of drugs and guns were a “community safety factor.”
It is the second time Ostwald has been arrested on drug charges since being put on probation in 2011.
According to court documents, a Montana Rail Link employee reported a possible marijuana grow operation at Ostwald’s home. Stillwater County Sheriff’s deputies met the reporting party and could see seven to 10 marijuana bushes being watered by pipes running from the main house located off Highway 10. Ostwald’s probation officer was notified and responded to conduct a search with deputies.
Found in that search were multiple methamphetamine and marijuana pipes, marijuana, a rifle, a shotgun, plastic baggies containing small amounts of methamphetamine and a scale, according to court documents.
Found outside the home were 14 marijuana plants plus two cut plants inside a motorhome on the property. Also in that motorhome was marijuana, scales, pipes and marijuana plants and buds hanging to dry on clothes hangers, according to court documents.
In phone conversations between Ostwald and his wife recorded at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility, Ostwald talks about letting a third know he needs to say the guns were his and that something found in a red tin their bedroom “we’ll just say we confiscated that from our daughter,” according to court documents.
In 2011, Ostwald was given six years probation and fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to two felony counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs for selling marijuana to an informant on four occasions.
At that time Ostwald was a registered medical marijuana caregiver but was selling the drug to registered patients and others at the rate of $100 per 1/4 ounce, according to court documents.
Marked currency, surveillance and other transaction recording were used in the purchases.
In one meeting with an undercover informant, Ostwald said the best way to obtain a medical marijuana card was to go to a doctor and complain of migraine headaches, according to the court documents. After three visits to that doctor, Ostwald said he could help the person get their card through the internet. The case was a joint investigation by the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations Bureau.
Within a year Ostwald was back in court after an October 2012 search of his house by his probation officer turned up two whiskey bottles, marijuana paraphernalia including pipes and paper, a marijuana bong, a jar with apparent residue in it, a marijuana horticulture book containing marijuana, the stem of a marijuana plant hanging upside down, an expired medical marijuana card and an empty magazine rifle.
He was remanded to the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections for three years and was placed on probation for 10 years.
In addition to the felony drug convictions, Ostwald’s criminal history includes a 4-page long driving history, several Fish, Wildlife & Parks citations and a Wyoming conviction that was revoked.
He has previously told Jones that his marijuana addiction began when he was in the fifth grade.