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Deputy faces charges of giving false information

Posted 9/08/15 (Tue)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

A deputy with the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office has been charged with two counts of Providing False Information to Law Enforcement, both Class A Misdemeanors.
On Aug. 25, Michael Schmitz was served with a Summons to appear before the McKenzie County District Court at the McKenzie County Courthouse on Sept. 23, 2015, at 8:30 a.m.
According to the Complaint,  the first charge states that Schmitz willfully gave false information to a law enforcement officer, which he knew to be false, and the information may have interfered with an investigation or may have materially misled a law enforcement officer.
Specifically, during an investigation into possible controlled substance violations, Schmitz informed Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) Special Agent Dale Maixner, that he had not received any early or extra narcotics prescriptions, nor had he received narcotics prescriptions when he visited the emergency room in Sidney, Mont., a few months earlier. According to court documents Schmitz had obtained and filled a prescription for narcotics in September of 2014, when he went to the emergency room in Sidney.
The second charge alleges that during an investigation into possible state-controlled information violations, Schmitz informed BCI Special Agent Maixner that he had an estimated three or four telephone contacts with John Tennant III prior to Aug. 22, 2012, and none afterwards. Telephone records indicate in excess of 40 telephone contacts between Schmitz and Tennant.
The Complaint also alleges that Schmitz informed Maixner that he had not offered or provided any assistance to Tennant with finding a bondsman to assist Tennant with bail or an attorney to defend Tennant. According to court documents, Schmitz did provide Tennant assistance with finding a bondsman or recommended an attorney.
Schmitz also allegedly informed Maixner that he had been trying to observe an unidentified male associated with Jennifer Tennant, Tennant’s wife, based on information Schimtz had received from a confidential informant. Court documents state that Schmitz was trying to observe this unidentified male at the request of Tennant, and Schmitz lacked any confidential informant in this regard.
An Initial Appearance scheduled for Sept. 23, was canceled due to ‘change of plea.’ A Pretrial Conference has been scheduled for Dec. 22, 2015, at 1 p.m., and a Jury Trial has been scheduled for Jan. 11, 2016, at 9 a.m. Schmitz retained Attorney Jeff Nehring on Sept. 1.
McKenzie County Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger indicated that Schmitz would continue his duties until the case is resolved.