The state investigation continues into Stillwater County Weed Coordinator Will Patterson and Commissioner Dennis Shupak concerning the alleged use of county equipment to spray private property.
Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes confirmed Tuesday that the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was still conducting its investigation into the case. Patterson remains on administrative leave with pay, as he has been since June 21. Shupak has remained in office and said he will refrain from any business having to do with the matter.
Patterson is accused of allegedly using county equipment to spray private property belonging to Shupak. The allegations were made to Stillwater County Attorney’s Office in June, which in turn notified the commissioners as well as the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office. In a letter from Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde to the Weed Board and the commissioners, she describes the complaint as “accusations of impropriety, if not criminal activity.”
Specifically, Rohde’s letter states that “it has been alleged, and evidence produced, that Will Patterson has been spraying private property with County equipment and possibly supplies. Such an act could rise to the elements of theft, and could be classified as a misdemeanor or felony dependent upon the type and the cost amount. To compound the matter even further, the allegations include that the private property Patterson was spraying belong to current County Commissioner Dennis Shupak.”
That evidence includes several photographs.
Rohde reported the matter to the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office and Undersheriff Chip Kem said the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office was contacted to conduct the investigation. DCI took over the case when it became apparent that more expertise and manpower would be needed.
Shortly after DCI took over, pornography was allegedly discovered on Patterson’s county computer, according to a letter from Rohde to DCI Bureau Chief John Strandell. In Rohde’s letter, she also advised Strandell that Patterson allegedly used county equipment and possibly county weed products at more than one private property.