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Repeat violations lead to time in prison to probationers
Hernan Montez
Hernan Montez

Two men convicted of separate drug charges in Barton County District Court were back in court this week facing allegations they had violated the terms of their probation.

Barton County Attorney Levi Morris, who represented the State of Kansas in both hearings, reported that Hernan Montez, 31, and Robert Wayne Crawford, 30, were both ordered to serve 10 years in custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections.


Hernan Montez

Morris said Montez was back in court on Tuesday facing allegations that he had violated the terms of his probation.

“In January, Montez was partially sentenced and given probation. His sentencing hearing was not completed because of a dispute on the amount of restitution owed to the victim. 

While waiting in jail for the restitution issue to be resolved, Montez committed new crimes. The State of Kansas filed a motion to revoke his probation and have him serve his underlying prison sentence.

“Montez argued that probation could not be revoked if he was not released to start the probation. Following a hearing on the matter, District Court Judge Carey Hipp ruled that probation could be revoked before he was released. After that ruling, Montez waived his right to an evidentiary hearing, waived his right to an appeal, stipulated to violations of his probation, and agreed to serve his prison sentence in exchange for a dismissal of the new charges.”

The highest severity offense in these cases was Distribution of Methamphetamine, Morris said. Montez will serve 123 months in the Kansas Department of Corrections.

The defendant was represented by Shannon Crane.


Robert Wayne Crawford

“Robert Wayne Crawford was back in court on Wednesday facing allegations that he had violated the terms of his probation by committing new crimes,” Morris reported. “Prior to an evidentiary hearing on the matter, Crawford waived his right to an evidentiary hearing, waived his rights to appeal, he stipulated to the violations of his probation, and agreed to serve 120 months in the Kansas Department of Corrections in exchange for dismissal of his new charges.”

The highest severity offense in these cases was Distribution of Methamphetamine.

The defendant was represented by Benjamin J. Fisher.


Background

Montez has Barton County drug convictions dating back to 2011, but his cases were all inactive as of June 12, 2020.

He was arrested in 2021 when a traffic stop on Main Street in Great Bend led to the discovery of multiple suspected illegal narcotics.

This past February, Montez was an inmate worker, or trustee, at the Barton County Jail, where he was being held on a contempt of court charge. He was arrested following an investigation into allegations of attempted drug smuggling at the jail.

Sheriff Brian Bellendir reported that an investigation was launched immediately after the BCSO became aware of allegations from two separate sources that controlled substances were being smuggled in. As a trustee, Montez was allowed to accompany the jail cook on errands and during one trip for groceries they stopped at a residence on Odell Street. The residence was put under surveillance. Montez was searched when he returned to the jail and suspected methamphetamine was discovered.

Two others were arrested in connection with that investigation:

• Reynaldo Martinez, later arrested at the residence, has plead and was sentenced to 104 months for a distribution of meth conviction, Morris said. He was granted probation.

• Tammy Batt, the cook, was charged with one count of traffic in contraband. She has been appointed an attorney and a status hearing for her case is set  for Aug. 18.

Crawford has been in Community Corrections for some time, with drug convictions going back to 2020. He was one of three people arrested on drug charges last November after a narcotics search warrant was executed at 1102 Hubbard Street.

• Christopher Buckley and Shirley Burrow were both charged with simple possession. They have each plead, been sentenced, and are on probation.

Robert Wayne Crawford
Robert Wayne Crawford