2 facing drug charges after police clear reported squatters from house

2014-07-09T06:30:00Z 2014-07-11T14:31:12Z 2 facing drug charges after police clear reported squatters from houseGazette Staff The Billings Gazette

A man and woman appeared in court Tuesday on felony drug charges after police said meth was found at the vacant house in which the two were reportedly squatting.

Scott Marshall Hofferber, 28, Ashley Michelle Backman, also 28, both appeared in Yellowstone County Justice Court on felony charges alleging they had methamphetamine. Backman also faces charges accusing her of having a benzodiazepine pill and a marijuana pipe.

Police arrested the two after responding at about 10:45 a.m. Monday to 916 N. 19th Street.

Officers were responding to two complaints, according to Billings Police Lt. Kevin Iffland. He said one caller, an occupant at the house, had complained about having property stolen, and in another complaint a neighbor had reported drug use and squatters at the house, which is bank-owned and was supposed to be vacant.

Police checked with the bank that owns the house. The bank confirmed nobody should be living there and gave police authority to enter the home and clear it.

Several officers responded to help clear the home and deal with the disturbance, Iffland said. A pit bull was also at the house and animal control arrived to remove it.

After searching the house, officers reported finding a syringe that tested positive for meth, several small baggies with meth residue, a pipe that smelled of marijuana and a baggie with a pill identified as benzodiazepine.

Judge David A. Carter allowed Hofferber to be released from jail without bail, and set bond at $2,500 for Backman, who a prosecutor said has 11 prior warrants for failing to appear in court as ordered.

As conditions for their release from jail, both were ordered to wear patches that detect drug use.

“Methamphetamine on the street today is very strong,” the judge noted.

Hofferber and Backman are scheduled to be arraigned district court on Friday.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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