Billings man gets 10 years DOC for vehicle theft, pursuit

By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, September 6, 2018

YCDF

Robert Plumb

Robert Plumb blew his chance for a second chance before he even reached his court date for sentencing last month.

Appearing before District Court Judge Blair Jones to be sentenced on felony charges of criminal endangerment and criminal possession of dangerous drugs recently, Plumb asked for leniency, saying he has six children in Yellowstone County and is working on his relationship with his ex-wife.

Regarding the fact that he had absconded after being released from jail pending sentencing, the 35-year-old man also said he had failed to keep in touch with his probation officer because he had been “cooking food for firefighters in Idaho.”

Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) Probation/Parole Officer Shellie Stichman rejected Plumb’s explanation for his absconding.

“There’s phones in Idaho,” Stitchman said when asked by Jones what her thoughts were on the situation.

Jones was also unimpressed.

“If you were concerned about your kids, you wouldn’t be doing this stuff,” Jones told Plumb.

Jones also said that people like Plumb are “problematic for the rest of us” because they commit thefts for drug money.

“There should be a punishment here because it’s wrong to steal other people’s property,” Jones said with a raised voice.

And with that, Jones imposed a 10-year commitment to the DOC, with only two years suspended. Jones also ordered that the sentence run consecutively to a 3-year DOC sentence Plumb recently received in a Yellowstone County case.

Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde had entered into a plea agreement with Plumb, but withdrew from the agreement when Plumb went on the lam in May. Rohde had recommended a 10-year DOC sentence with five years suspended, also to run consecutively to the Yellowstone County case. Defense attorney Greg Paskell asked for a 2-year DOC commitment.

Jones said the sentence punishes the criminal conduct displayed, provides rehabilitation and a measure of community safety through Plumb’s incarceration and supervision.

THE CASE

On Nov. 17, 2017, at 10:25 a.m., Stillwater County Undersheriff Chip Kem and Chief Investigator Woody Claunch responded to a sighting of an eastbound stolen camper on I-90, according to court documents.

When the camper passed them, the deputies activated their lights to initiate a traffic stop, but Plumb continued to drive west, taking the Columbus exit. Stationed at the Columbus exit was Columbus Police Chief Jacob Ward. Plumb allegedly drove around Ward’s patrol car and entered into Columbus, with all three patrol cars in pursuit.

Plumb ran one stop sign, drove above the speed limit, on the wrong side of the road and up on the curbs, eventually driving off the road between two houses and fleeing on foot, according to court documents.

He was captured by Ward, with Kem assisting.

Once in custody, Plumb allegedly admitted that he had stolen the pickup truck from the Walmart parking lot in the Billings Heights two weeks prior and had stolen the camper on Nov. 16. He said he was headed to Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus to camp for the weekend, according to court documents.

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