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Montana in brief

Missoula lawyer accused of stealing MISSOULA — Lawyer Dirk Beccari was charged Friday with 19 felonies, including allegations that he stole thousands of dollars from clients.

Beccari, 43, was charged with 13 counts of felony theft, five counts of tampering with public records and one count of forgery.

According to an affidavit by Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg, Beccari tampered with public records by passing off falsified documents as court records between May 25, 2000, and last December.

On 13 occasions, he took more than $1,000 from his personal clients or those of the Missoula law of Mansch, McLaverty and Beccari, the affidavit says.

An investigation began when Beccari informed Sam Haddon, chairman of the state board on lawyer discipline, that he had violated professional ethics in a way that might be criminal, according to documents filed in court.

Beccari appeared in Justice Court on Friday and said he would represent himself. Van Valkenburg recommended release without bail.

“He will not be involved in the practice of law and I’m willing to take the risk that there will not be additional victims,” Van Valkenburg said.

In an interview after his court appearance Beccari said, “I regret my actions. I’ve made some really poor choices.”

He began practicing law in 1984. His career has included work as a public defender. Class reunion set in Miles CityMILES CITY (AP) — More than 600 graduates of the Custer County and Sacred Heart high school classes of 1960-1969 were arriving here this weekend to celebrate a mass class reunion.

Former teachers at both schools planned to meet with the former students at a reception Saturday. The visitors will be given tours of Custer County High School.

The Miles City Preservation Commission provided its Ghost Tour, a one-hour guided historical walking tour of the city, exclusively for reunion participants.

Other activities were to include a barbecue, a golf tournament and dances on both Friday and Saturday nights.Flathead commissioners appeal to NortonKALISPELL — Flathead County Commissioners have asked Interior Secretary Gale Norton to prevent further declines in the level of Flathead Lake, which dropped a foot below full pool by July 1.

“Faced with drought conditions, an immediate response to pass no more water out of the system than is entering it is the only way we see to stabilize levels at the present time,” Commissioner Dale Williams said.

Flathead Lake dropped slowly but steadily after the Interior Department, on behalf of the Salish and Kootenai tribes, ordered minimum flows from Kerr Dam of 12,700 cubic feet per second until July 1. Releases have slowed since then to 10,800 cfs, but inflows also have dropped steadily.

“Water shortages now present in our basin mean a continued drain of water from Flathead Lake, which translates into irreparable harm for the Flathead Lake environment and the economy of Flathead County,” the commissioners said in their news release.Grizzly with love for garbage wins one-way trip to zoo in Milwaukee LIVINGSTON — A grizzly bear with a history of hanging out by a swimming pool in Paradise Valley will spend time poolside at a zoo in Milwaukee.

The animal was captured Tuesday in a machine shed on the Dome Mountain Ranch between Emigrant and Gardiner. The 6-year-old female is moving to the Milwaukee County Zoo, where she will have the run of a 4,000-square-foot exhibit area and a chance to fish for trout in a pond.

Officials from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the bear became increasingly — and dangerously — bolder this summer. A few days before her capture, she walked past the swimming pool at Point of Rocks Ranch on the banks of the Yellowstone River. She also walked up to the ranch’s kitchen door, climbed fences and even tried to enter cabins.

That lack of fear of humans earned her the one-way ticket to the zoo, said Kevin Frey, a bear specialist for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“It was just a safety issue,” Frey said. “The bear was doing what bears do, but it just wasn’t a good location. The whole thing was going downhill for her. She was getting braver and coming around people.”

Frey said the animal had been visiting homes and ranches along the river and in Tom Miner Basin. Jim Klyap, manager of Dome Mountain Ranch, said he saw the bear several times and she was never aggressive.

At some point, she learned that humans produce garbage and other snacks.

“It almost always starts the same way,” Frey said. “They get their first taste and they never forget it. It always gets them in the end.”

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