Chilinski’s lawyer tries to get evidence tossed

Federal court | Pot, animal cruelty charges at issue
2012-10-07T00:48:00Z 2012-10-16T11:38:14Z Chilinski’s lawyer tries to get evidence tossedBy EVE BYRON Independent Record Helena Independent Record
October 07, 2012 12:48 am  • 

A federal defense attorney is trying to get a search warrant for Mike Chilinski’s Jefferson City home thrown out, which could also force alleged evidence of animal cruelty and marijuana manufacturing and distribution to become inadmissible.

In court documents filed this week in U.S. District Court in Helena, Michael Donahoe writes that the magistrate who issued a search warrant for Chilinski’s home last year did so based upon an officer’s statement that the conditions of his kennels had been a long standing and consistent problem. Donahoe writes that the officer erroneously told the magistrate there were at least five other written reports from other deputies that suggested animal neglect or cruelty in 2011.

“… that statement was intended to tell the issuing magistrate that this animal cruelty business was a long standing problem at (the) defendant’s residence,” Donahoe wrote, adding that “not only were there not five

written reports by other deputies, the historical record actually showed that defendant had been cleared of animal cruelty suspicion in 2009-2010 by Dr. (Sue) Geske.

“… there was insufficient probable cause to issue the original animal cruelty warrant and therefore the subsequent warrants for drugs must likewise fail as a result.”

Chilinski was arrested on animal cruelty charges on Oct. 12, 2011, after a raid on his property uncovered an alleged puppy mill operation by Chilinski. At the time the dogs were removed there were 160 dogs, but many were pregnant at the time and that number has now grown to 200. The Lewis and Clark Humane Society has been caring for the dogs since then.

Authorities say the dogs were malnourished and many were in poor condition at the time they were taken, living in pens that were a “messy jumble of feces, both solid and liquid” and in many cases without water.

He’s facing district court charges in the animal cruelty case.

Chilinski disputes that. In an affidavit also filed in federal court, Chilinski said he’s been champion sled dog malamutes for more than 30 years.

“Being a breeder that often breeds over seven litters a year puts me automatically on a list for AKC inspections,” he said under oath. “Having had two recent inspections by AKC representative Gene Brennan, I felt confident I was obeying all laws and the stricter AKC rules. The police were aware of the fact the AKC had inspected me because I often would remind them that the expert from AKC had found no health or care issues.”

He said the police started visiting his property due to alleged complaints beginning in 2009, and he felt he was being targeted, so he met with the Jefferson County Sheriff Craig Doolittle to talk about his concerns. He said Doolittle assured him that if his operation passed an inspection by a veterinarian, that the matter would be put to rest.

“I was not issued a copy of the report but later was told my kennels were fine,” Chilinski said.

However, he was visited again by a deputy on June 11, 2011, who inspected and filmed the property, and “to my horror” they found a dead dog. Chilinski said the dog was well fed and had several buckets of water, and he theorized to the officer that the dog died due to bloating caused by a change in dog food.

He adds that during that visit, the deputy looked inside a greenhouse where Chilinski was growing marijuana. Chilinski said he had a state-issued medical marijuana card.

During his arrest on 90 animal cruelty charges, the same officer asked Chilinski what else they might find while searching the property, which is when Chilinski mentioned the marijuana in the greenhouse.

A grand jury indicted Chilinski in May on federal charges for one count of manufacture of marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana for knowingly manufacturing 100 or more plants.

Donahoe also is trying to get Chilinski’s statements about the marijuana to be suppressed, saying he wasn’t read his Miranda rights by the officer prior to their discussion.

Chilinski said he felt compelled to answer the question since he was under arrest.

Reporter Eve Byron:

447-4076 or Follow Eve on Twitter@IR_EveByron

Copyright 2016 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(23) Comments

  1. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - October 09, 2012 12:21 pm
    I think it is a tragedy that these dogs are being held in limbo as this drags on and on. How are they supposed to be socialized? What quality of life do they have being warehoused that way? I find it interesting that a prior occupant of the property, Montana Cannabis, was subject to immediate forfeiture of the seized property, including medicine, growing equipment, etc. (much of which was destroyed during seizure) and yet these animals can't even be neutered, let alone adopted out. How much money is being spent to keep these dogs warehoused while the legal process grinds on and on? And I do have sympathy for the neighbors... this breed tends to be rather vocal, and with the sheer numbers I imagine the din must be deafening at times. When will there be resolution, and will it be too late for the dogs?
  2. JayL
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    JayL - October 09, 2012 11:03 am
    And you would fix the situation how???
  3. JayL
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    JayL - October 09, 2012 10:43 am
    Donahoe raises a critical point (challenging validity of the search warrant.) Whether it has merit is yet to be seen. The allegations are merely allegations until Chilinski has his day in court and it's proven otherwise. This case reveals flaws in our legal system that deal with animal cruelty, private property rights, noise ordinances, powers of local authorities, personal rights and responsibilities, etc. So now, what should be done going forward to improve our society and maintain our freedom? For instance, should local authorities have power to seize every animal or be limited to those which are allegedly abused and scaled as such by a licensed veterinarian? In this case the authorities took everything. Should an annual kennel license require annual screening by a vet for re-licensure if an owner maintains, say, 10 or more dogs for any personal or commercial purpose? Let hear it- what do you think?
  4. JVH77
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    JVH77 - October 09, 2012 9:51 am
    Sounds like a shoddy investigation and corner cutting from law enforcement on this one. What could've been another open and shut Federal drug conviction seems to have been compromised by poor police work. Of course they're likely to figure out some way to have all pertinent defense information suppressed and still obtain their conviction but this one sure doesn't sound as easy as the rest of these Federal cases. What strikes me as interesting is the cannabis charges seem to be a bit of an afterthought and the state evidently didn't see a need to prosecute them. How did the Feds get involved?

    All the petty neighborhood squabbling and noise complaint stuff aside there are real issues involved in this story that have implications beyond the unfortunate tragedy involving these dogs. This case raises some serious questions, it would be nice to get a little more info.
  5. johnkre41
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    johnkre41 - October 09, 2012 7:07 am
    Ya... You have really made some headway bud. keep telling yourself that.
  6. johnkre41
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    johnkre41 - October 09, 2012 6:44 am
    I don't make threats Jay. I was making a point that long before you or your father were born LOUD commercial operations have been occurring in that very spot. You were not around when we lived with tractor trailers moving in and out at all hours of the night delivering flowers, twenty years ago. I reported the current owners for tearing up a parking lot a few years before you arrived at 3 in the AM. The sheriff came and left and not a thing was done, he finished around 5AM. I also reported your son who was a chief menace to the "disturbance of the peace" as you put it and could get nothing done about his activities either. Your family have been an offender, they are offenders and maybe you should just find something to occupy your day. ever try walking a dog? LOL
  7. JayL
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    JayL - October 09, 2012 2:33 am
    Yes, it functions regardless of covenants and zoning.
  8. JayL
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    JayL - October 09, 2012 2:31 am
    Sticking your head in the sand is one way to deal with it. As you say, the dogs are loud, and it’s nice that a stylish set of earplugs supposedly helped you get used to them. That approach may possibly help you overcome impatience and lack of compassion and quite possibly develop some finesse. BTW, is that a rooster you are threatening me with? LOL
  9. stonecarver
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    stonecarver - October 08, 2012 12:14 am
  10. stonecarver
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    stonecarver - October 08, 2012 12:14 am
    I live, according to google maps, eight feet closer than you and i have yet to loose a night sleep over these dogs. Whats your beef lady, do things out of your controll really bother you that much? You should invest in a crash helmet, cus newsflash. Thats life! Out of controll.
  11. stonecarver
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    stonecarver - October 08, 2012 12:09 am
    Do we all get invites to your coolaid party steeline? Covenants on a 120 year old commercial site? Dream on big guy. Outside your knowledge structure. We have to get america right the heck away from steeline folks. He talkin crazy talk.
  12. johnkre41
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    johnkre41 - October 07, 2012 11:21 pm
    I have spoken to eight of your critics at at athe neighborhood party who live just as close and in one case CLOSER than you and they have no complaints. So there is yet another one of your arguements shot down. Its wild exaggerations like that theresa that make your neighbors shake their heads at your comments.
  13. johnkre41
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    johnkre41 - October 07, 2012 11:11 pm
    Heck ya!
  14. johnkre41
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    johnkre41 - October 07, 2012 11:10 pm
    Ill be the first to tear up a notion like that! What gall you display, what arrogance you spew as if you had the first clue as to what we need out in our neck of the woods. Keep your hairbrained notions to yourself, do you even understand how zoning works in areas like ours? I say not, city dwellers never do. Get down to the city county building and get a refresher on persisting commercial zoning. If you even knew the sheer scope of your idea, all traffic would have to slow, all heavy traffic would have to be rerouted, thats eight hundred trucks a week having to come through butte around mac-pass. No concerts for a cause because thats allot of noise, no automotive shops no commercial enterprises of any sorts, lets not even get into fort harrison as it shars boundry with the new steeline zoning debacle. Are the training days to be nixed because we cant have gunfire in steelines new world order. Give it a rest man when you tell us to get america right does that include shutting down businesses, concerts, military preparedness.....your america thank god is not my america.
  15. johnkre41
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    johnkre41 - October 07, 2012 10:52 pm
    This is a comment from a person who lives just as close to those dogs as you theresa! They dont bug me in the least, i have gotten quite use to them and I suggest you should find some other outlet for your impatience and lack of compassion. I purchased a very stylish set of earplugs for my wife and myself at wallmart for .34 cents each and took to volunteer work with the humane society. They are a great group of folks who truly care for the wellbeing of all animals not just the dogs, whom i have had the pleasure of watching the cair and energy they give to this great work. For you to even suggest that they were lax in their handeling of their communication with the neighbors is ridicules. I called the same week the paper ran the article about the new home and was courteous and inquisitive. I recieved like feedback. I think you handled your conversations with the humane society like you talk in your posts, Oh my poor life, my frustration, my anger. I suggest you and the other neighbors who still moan and complane approach the next situation with a bit more finesse, you never know this may be just the beginning of "loud" activity across our little stretch of highway. Rumor has it the next tennants are a fancy rooster breeder from Tennessee.....think on that for a minute.
  16. TheresaLode
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    TheresaLode - October 07, 2012 9:27 pm
    Little Eddie- Your friends probably live on Lombardy and yes for them...the noise hasn't been an issue unless the wind is blowing right and its' feeding time. My crummy little iPod recordings tell a different story for us. Even during the hot weather, we had to keep our windows closed and even was horrible. We, along with a few other folks, have night after night of dog-induced insomnia. Not that will persuade you or others who've criticized our speaking out.
    Steeline- We ARE zoned out here for noise. But...because the Humane Society is a "kennel" they are above the law. Some of the deputies who've been out here have been unable to anything besides apologize and give us compassionate looks. (More than one of them heard for themselves.) We will be working this legislative session for a bill (like we need another law) to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Especially since the Humane Society is looking for a new home.
  17. whitewilliam
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    whitewilliam - October 07, 2012 9:15 pm need to catch a course in basic knowledge. Read up on implantation and grandfathering of zoning laws. You just made yourself look like a child. That place has been commercially zoned since the 1800....its locked in just like my place. Commercial zoning allows me to run my business 24/7 and make money. If you don't want to be disturbed by business move into town. Its what it was made for. make me laugh Steal Line!
  18. whitewilliam
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    whitewilliam - October 07, 2012 9:08 pm
    I for one like broken it again Theresa. God, move on already and find something else to go on and on about. You get a shrug from the officials because thats all you deserve. you moved out to our neighborhood not the other way around. live with the fact there are no zoning rules in our neck of the woods. NOR WILL THERE EVER BE ! steal-line, I for one like building trailers, welding and grinding metal till two in the AM and there is nothing any one can do about it. Its why I bought this house. If you wanted a peaceful life you should have moved to where there are rules in place to protect overly sensitive individuals from noises. get some earplugs already and give it a rest.
  19. steeline
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    steeline - October 07, 2012 6:18 pm
    Isn't there a law against "disturbing the peace"? Here is where covenants and/or zoning would pay off for the general neighborhood.
  20. Little Eddie
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    Little Eddie - October 07, 2012 5:46 pm
    Theresa I met a couple different folks in your neighborhood who didn't complain at all. They said the noise wasn't an issue at all and would be happy to help out if they could.

    best thing that could happen is to get this trial over with and move those dogs into homes. Every dog deserves a good home.
  21. TheresaLode
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    TheresaLode - October 07, 2012 2:17 pm
    Luvpups- Doesn't is go without saying this all started with Chilinski? We are just as outraged as anyone else at the squalor and neglect of those dogs. But to place 200 of them into a neighborhood where people are subjected to day and night noise?
    You're not the first to rebuke us for our complaining and you certainly won't be the last. Funny, none of our critics live within earshot of the noise. And if in their quiet neighborhood there was a solitary dog distubring their sleep, the city would step in to help ensure the peace and quiet. Add 200 of them and there would be arrests.
    There have been multiple decisions and buck passing that have made a terrible situation even worse. And yes, this includes the Humane Society and their outrageous lack of respect for the folks living in our neighborhood.
  22. luvpups
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    luvpups - October 07, 2012 11:05 am
    oh please, I have met several people throughout 2010 - 2011 who said they had called the police after seeing the way mike kept his animals. I have seen the conditions of his dogs, they were never very will taken care of. Mike has no right to get out of these charges.
    And Teresa, seriously? If you want to blame anyone, blame Mike. He is the only one responsible for what is happening right now. but wow, you must not be aware the treatments that these dogs were subject to or you wouldn't be so concerned about them barking. But i do agree with you that those dogs need to go to new home asap. Mike should never get those dogs back after what he did, and he should be forever banned from breeding.
  23. TheresaLode
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    TheresaLode - October 07, 2012 9:40 am
    In the meanwhile, while all this footwork takes place, we, the neighbors, continue to wonder how much longer our torment will continue. Last night alone, we listened to a lone howler from 10PM until after midnight. After 3 1/2 months, our nerves our utterly shot from the 24/7 assault of 200 malamutes howling.
    Everyone in this case has shirked responsibility starting with JeffCo- they sent the problem to Lewis and Clark County, to the Humane Society who, not having the facilites to house these dogs, accepted these cold weather dogs to be a greenhouse. The final insult has been what we have had to bear with nary a shrug from local officials or the Humane Society leadership.
    I suspect if folks were subjected to the noise abuse for a few days, this case would have sped along. And maybe, just maybe, those dogs would be in loving homes by now.

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