More charges filed against Absarokee man accused of running meth lab

By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, June 13, 2019
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Prosecutors have added more charges in a case against an Absarokee man accused of operating a clandestine methamphetamine lab in his home.

Brett Garrett Vandever, 32, appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court last week and pleaded not guilty to one felony count of tampering with a witness and misdemeanor counts of criminal contempt and violating an order of protection.

Vandever previously pleaded not guilty to felony counts of operating a clandestine lab, four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one felony count of tampering with evidence or a witness.

The new charges accuse him of committing a second count of tampering with a witness when he regained his phone privileges at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility and began calling his mother with messages to be delivered to his wife, according to new charging documents.

The violation of the order of protection alleges Vandever sent his wife and children letters, despite a judge having prohibited him from making any contact with them. The criminal contempt charge is based on Vandever’s alleged ongoing contact with his wife and children despite a judge ordering him from doing so.

This is the second time Vandever has allegedly violated Judge Matt Wald’s orders to have no contact with his family. The first instance came immediately following his initial court appearance when he called his wife a total of 12 times from the jail’s booking room, according to court testimony.

Vandever also requested last week that his $50,000 bond be reduced so he can go to work and provide for his family. Judge Wald denied that motion and as of Wednesday, June 12, Vandever remained in jail.

THE CASE

Multiple reports of possible meth lab activity were made to the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office in March, leading to a joint investigation by the county and the Montana Department of Criminal Investigations Bureau (DCI). A search warrant was executed in March on Vandever’s home and shed. Recovered items included two firearms, sport drink bottles containing unknown residue and apparent burn marks, a clear tube with tape and residue, a plastic bottle cap with a drilled hole and tape, camp fuel, liquid fire, Lye, a lithium battery, water softener salt, a propane torch and an unknown liquid contained in a mason jar, according to court documents.

Two people were interviewed who told investigators that Vandever had spoke of making meth previously. One person said he was almost positive that Vandever’s wife and four children were in the home asleep when Vandever was “cooking” meth, according to court documents. His children range in age from 9 months to 15.

Vandever was arrested on March 21.

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