Billings pair charged with possessing meth to sell

By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, April 4, 2019

YCDF photo
          
            Darla Barsness

A man and woman from Billings face felony charges of methamphetamine possession with intent to sell after sparking the suspicion of four local law enforcement officers at the Columbus Town Pump.

Darla Barsness, 48, and Greg Wolfblack, 46, each appeared in district court recently and pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in connection to an incident in March.

Each is charged with felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and a misdemeanor count of manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia.

Barsness is also charged with criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a suspended or revoked license and driving with no insurance.

Wolfblack’s bond was set at $5,000 and he is no longer in jail.

Barsness’s bond was set at $15,000 and as of Wednesday afternoon, she remained jailed.

Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde had asked for a $48,000 bond for Barsness based on her criminal history. According to the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC), Barsness is a registered violent offender who is currently listed as “non-compliant/address verification overdue” on the state Sexual Violent Offender Registry.

Barsness’s criminal history includes convictions for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated felony assault and use of a dangerous weapon. Those charges stemmed from the 1996 baseball bat beating of a man over drugs in Gallatin County, in which the victim suffered a fractured skull. Barsness was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping and assault. 

That 1996 case was investigated by Bill Pronovost, the recently retired Columbus police chief who that time, ran the Missouri River Drug Task Force based in Gallatin County. Pronovost was a Gallatin County Sheriff's captain.

THE CASE

According to court documents, on March 14, the pair drew the attention of four local law enforcement officers who were eating at the Columbus Town Pump when Barsness drove a pickup truck without a front license plate into the parking lot, and then moved locations to the northeast side of the business. Barsness then moved the truck yet again to the west side of the building.

“Because local law enforcement is aware of the drug traffic which occurs in the Town Pump vicinity, as well as it being common place to recover stolen vehicles,” Columbus Police Officers Jason Ferguson and Aaron Uecker and Stillwater County Sheriff Deputies Cactus Anderson and Corporal Clay Waltner continued to watch the truck. The truck was found behind the Super 8 Motel, which is an area “known by law enforcement for illegal drug activity,” according to court documents.

When the truck appeared on Eighth Avenue and headed toward the I-90 onramp, Deputy Anderson made a traffic stop.

Barsness was aware there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest and knew she was driving without a valid license and insurance.

Barsness consented to a search of the truck and found in it were the following:

-An ear bud case containing 29.2 grams of suspected meth

-A 50-caliber handgun

-A red makeup bag containing two needles, a glass pipe and two cell phones

-A baggy that appeared to contain meth residue

-A scale containing residue

-A bag containing three empty baggies of suspected meth residue and two straws

-A clean needle in the center console

-Multiple broken pipes in the center console

-Two glass pipes

-Multiple baggies

-One homemade rubber to metal tube pipe

Barsness told officers different stories and in the end, said she had driven from Billings to Bozeman to see her sister, and was on her way back to Billings. When asked where she had gotten the drugs, Barsness denied having drugs. She also admitted to having used meth by smoking it, according to court documents. When told about the 29.2 grams of meth found in the truck, Wolfblack said, “It’s not mine,” according to court documents.

A deputy noted that Wolf-black, who admitted to using meth, appeared to be under the influence of a drug and was “sweating and smelled metallic, his tongue smacked when he spoke and his muscle tone was rigid,” according to court documents.

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