Bozeman News

Feb 4, 2014 10:21 PM by Beth Saboe - MTN News

Citizens threaten to arrest local judge, law enforcement on edge

A threat made against a local judge has law enforcement on edge.

But, as MTN's Beth Saboe reports, a member of the unorganized militia says his group is not out for vigilante justice.

"This is not about arresting a judge per Se, this is about holding him and every law agency to the same standards that they hold you and I to. This isn't about vengeance; this is about justice," William Wolf said.

Wolf is a friend of Ernie Tertelgte, a Manhattan resident who calls himself "a natural living man" and has gained internet fame for confronting local judges.

Last week, Justice of the Peace, Rick West put Terteglte behind bars for contempt of court.

It's not the first time the two have squared off and Wolf says the Judge violated Tertelgte's civil rights during a court appearance last year.

"The animosity between Judge West and Ernie seems to be extreme," Wolf says.

That so-called animosity prompted MTN News to reach out to Wolf, to confirm rumors that his group wanted to arrest Judge West.

Wolf wrote us this email, saying yes, the unorganized militia is planning on a Citizens arrest of Rick West - something the Gallatin County Sheriff says is a serious concern.

"When there are threats like this, not only does it affect that person, it affects their family," Sheriff Brian Gootkin said.
"Like we explained to Wolf, that's unacceptable. For someone in the family to live in fear, that's not the way things work."

Gootkin went on to say, "When you start talking about arresting people and kidnapping people, and that's unacceptable and nothing good comes from that."

The Sheriff says he has no problem with Wolf's unorganized militia or their distrust of the government. But the group's rhetoric is a message he's heard before.

"I lived through the Freeman, you know, we went through this once before and it's like whirling disease," Gootkin said.

"It's right back again, it's just different names and different people. So that's the reason that we're trying to head it off. Trying to open up this line of communication and explain to them - we're more than willing to listen to you, more than willing to listen to your side, but just because you don't get what you want doesn't allow you to break the law," he said.

The Sheriff says his office will investigate Wolf's complaint against Judge West.

"I told him I'm confident that there was no criminal activity by the judge," Gootkin said.

Wolf says if that turns out to be the case, he will drop the issue.

"If something does not go forward in a positive manner, or if they determine there is no probable cause, then the matter's over," Wolf said.

"We've done our duty as best we could do and we've relied on the government to do their duty. And we will be disappointed but we're not vigilantes," he said.

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