The Race For Mineral County Sheriff

by Travis Mateer

According to 2020 US census data, Mineral County has a population of around 4,500 people and the County seat is in Superior, Montana.

For today’s post I’ll be taking a look at who may be the SUPERIOR candidate for Sheriff, Wayne Cashman or Ryan Funke? Let’s begin with Wayne.

Wayne Cashman

In a Q&A administered by Clark Fork Valley reporter, Monte Turner, a question is asked that carries obvious undertones of the Rebekah Barsotti missing person case.

Here’s the question: What kinds of situations would you call in other law enforcement agencies to assist with an arrest or an ongoing investigation? Specifically, which agencies would you be willing to coordinate with on a state or federal level and for what kinds of criminal activity?

And here’s Cashman’s answer: We have had many outside agencies assisting us over the past 16 months we have been here. At the county level, Missoula County and Flathead County have assisted us in a missing person case, assisted in a fugitive recovery operation, brought in their Swat Teams to assist along with Flathead County Sheriff SWAT. DCI (Department of Criminal Investigations) has assisted with murder a suicide case and found remains investigation. At the federal level Homeland Security form interdiction and human smuggling cases. We maintain working relationships with local, state and federal agencies to help protect the citizens of Mineral County.

Now, since this question was asked of BOTH candidates, let’s see how this guy responded.

Ryan Funke

Here is Ryan Funke’s answer: Situations that are large scale and above our agency capacities. The Department of Criminal Investigations is a state agency that assists Montana law enforcement agencies in a wide variety of investigations. This is at no cost to the requesting agency. Other agencies that I would be willing to coordinate with include, but are not limited to: Montana Highway Patrol Interdiction Team, DCI, DEA, CSKT Drug Detectives, NWDTF, ATF. Working relationships with surrounding agencies include Sanders County SO, Missoula County, Shoshone County, and Montana Highway Patrol. 

When I read Funke’s answer I think to myself, is there a dog NOT barking here? Like maybe a dog who lives in Lake County and is pretty familiar with the embarrassment of the Coyote Club? For those not familiar, that link gives a very brief, broad overview of this long investigation into a group of LEOs who liked to shoot things out of season, and in places they weren’t supposed to. Here’s a little context from the link:

The “coyote club” was brought to the limelight in 2010 as a result of an investigation by Frank Bowen, a longtime Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden, in which he alleged that several area law enforcement officers were taking game out of season in prohibited places through the “club.”

No charges were ever brought against most of the officers, although many of those embroiled in the controversy wound up in court.

In one case, former Lake County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy Jesse Jacobs was charged with two counts of illegal possession of a game animal — a moose — but those charges were dismissed in May 2011. Assistant Attorney General Deborah Butler requested the charges be dismissed without prejudice due to insufficient evidence.

Some of the parties involved in the matter ended up suing each other, along with a few others in three different cases. Two of the three cases have been dismissed. Though final judgment in the last civil suit brought against the LCSO is pending, U.S. District Judge Richard W. Anderson recommended on Jan. 12 that the case be dismissed in its entirety.

Yes, this embarrassing period of law enforcement history included some additional litigation, like Mike Sargeant and Ryan Funke suing Don Bell. I’m not sure exactly why, but after reading the document in the link, I think it had something to do with emotional distress from having people look at your dead animal heads mounted on the wall (emphasis mine):

Detective Lenz seized seven whitetail deer mounts and a black bear rug from Sargeant’s residence. Around this time, Sheriff Bell discussed the ongoing investigation with Funke, and Bell provided Funke with a copy of the search warrant but did not execute the search warrant at his residence. Funke voluntarily invited Bell into his residence. Bell took photographs of deer mounts, but nothing was seized from Funke’s home.

As a result of these activities, Sargeant and Funke both claim that they have experienced debilitating stress and emotional and mental damages. Plaintiffs filed a civil rights petition against LSCO in Montana’s Twentieth Judicial District Court, which was removed to federal court. Sargeant and Funke alleged four claims: Count I: Violation of Plaintiffs Rights under the Montana Constitution; Count II: 42 U.S.C. §1983, Violation of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by Sheriff Bell and John Does 1-5 in their individual capacities; Count III: Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress; Count IV: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; and punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. LSCO moved for summary judgment on all counts, which Judge Anderson granted.1

Well, Mineral County voters, I guess if you’re ok with a guy who gets this bent out of shape when his boss shows up at his house with a search warrant, then vote for Funke.

Since I don’t live in Mineral County, I don’t really have a dog in this race, but for the purposes of some stories I’m following, my narrative topography certainly seems to be expanding to counties that border states that look like guns.

I’m thinking of guns because Rebekah Barsotti had one, it was in her car, and the Mineral County Sheriff Deputy who wants to be Sheriff didn’t secure items like those when he responded to the 911 call that STILL hasn’t been released, even though Rebekah has been found deceased.

Speaking of finding Rebekah, you can listen to the interview of the 26 year old man, Nate, who discovered the body on May 17th. Nate is the son of Tina Alexander, a real estate agent who sold David Barsotti his house. I’m sure that’s just a weird coincidence. If you want to know more about that connection, and how Sheriff Toth is being called a liar by the PI, listen to this interview.

As I think about the dumpster fire being generated by PIs, hitmen with gunshot wounds, and a wide range of other colorful characters, I want readers to know this shit show is a direct result of law enforcement NOT doing their job early on in this case.

The behavior of Mineral County law enforcement might seem strange to outsiders, especially outsiders who think they deserve answers about WHY their daughter’s missing person case was NEVER investigated as anything other than a river accident/recovery effort. Here’s Angela Mastrovito describing Sheriff Toth’s continued efforts to lie and manipulate the family of Rebekah Barsotti:

How can Sheriff Toth lie so blatantly without consequence? Is there something we’re missing here?

If Ryan Funke makes it past the primary today, questions about his role in the Coyote Club will more than likely persist. Maybe that’s where Ryan Funke’s wife, Danica Funke, can help her man out, which she did recently on Facebook:

While we may not know much about Ryan Funke and what he’s done to help people, we DO have a statement from the man who paid a heavy professional price for trying to hold law enforcement accountable during the Coyote Club saga.

Here’s one of the statements Frank Bowen took during his investigation before being run out of his position due to death threats:

‘You can’t break the law if you are the law.’ 

Yep, that about says it all, doesn’t it?

There will be more to report on regarding the Rebekah Barsotti case after today, so stay tuned to this blog because legacy media has abdicated their duties in the coverage of this non-investigation story.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to The Race For Mineral County Sheriff

  1. Dr Kenneth Stevenson says:

    Ecclesiastes 8:11 (KJV)
    Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

    But the day of judgment is rapidly approaching!

  2. Tamera says:

    comment removed by author. -Traivis

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