Above The Law?

by lizard

Usually when I hear the term “above the law” I think of a person or corporate entity who has the money to circumvent our judicial process. But after following the news reports about a woman who has been reeking havoc in our community since last March, it appears I need to broaden my thinking about how some chronic law-breaking individuals don’t receive the same degree of enforcement as you or I would.

The individual I am talking about is the notorious “Meter-Reader Scooter” bandit, Carey Sterling. According to this article, Ms. Sterling was released from jail about 10 days ago. Before being released, judge Deschamps stated “You’re about as free a spirit as anybody I’ve ever run into, but somehow you’re going to have to keep yourself under control.”

Well, it appears Ms. Sterling is not capable of controlling herself. Read this account of her recent behavior and tell me whether or not this woman should be allowed on the streets. Here is the gist of the situation:

Carey Sterling was sentenced just last week for stealing the Missoula Parking Commission’s scooter and the judge gave her credit for the time she already served in jail and she was given a deferred sentence.

“Please don’t do anything in the next six months except pay this off,” Missoula District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps said when he sentenced Sterling last Tuesday and told her to pay off her fines.

But sometime in the last week Sterling got out of jail and then on Wednesday she went into the Missoula Police Department to confess to an arson.

Prosecutors say in court documents that the officer she was speaking to told her she didn’t have enough details about the crime and that it needed to be investigated further.

The officer also thought Sterling was trying to get back into jail and he told her he wouldn’t arrest her at that time.

Sterling then told him “Well I guess I will just have to assault you then.” She then kicked him in the shin, punched him in the face and sat down waiting to be arrested.

The officer went in to talk to his supervisor and when he came out he saw that Sterling set a garbage can on fire in the entrance of the police department.

Sterling is being charged with assault on a peace officers and negligent arson.

So, this recent behavior should ensure that Carey is back in jail. Right? Wrong.

According to the Missoula County Jail Roster, Carey was booked on November 17th, at 5:27pm, for negligent arson, which is a misdemeanor, and felony assault on a police officer. Pretty serious, right?

I guess not serious enough to warrant a full day in jail. Carey was released from custody the following day at 2:46pm.

So, if Ms. Sterling continues her law-breaking behavior, which there is every indication she will, be sure to thank Judge Orzech.

I guess some people don’t face the same sort of consequences for their illegal behavior as the rest of us. This particular individual seems to be confounding local law enforcement. And instead of dealing with it, they are simply shirking their responsibility and putting a dangerous woman out on the streets to do God knows what next.

Hopefully she doesn’t kill someone.

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  1. JC

    Two questions:

    1) Why did she want to go back to jail?

    2) why didn’t they divert her to St. Pat’s for a few days cooling off in the MHU?

    • lizard19

      good questions JC. there is obviously more going on behind the scenes than we know, but from an outsider’s perspective, it doesn’t look good at all. it seems that the jail/law enforcement is blatantly allowing a potentially dangerous repeat offender to run wild in this community instead of doing what she wants them to do, which is arrest and jail her.

      why she wants to be in jail is anyone’s guess. and based on her behavior, i would assume other agencies have been involved in assessing Ms. Sterling’s mental health.

  2. Hmmm…

    I wonder if this is a case of Sheriff McMeekin and his team of “behavioral scientists” using their “unwritten agreement” with Judge Donald Louden to release someone. (http://tinyurl.com/25xhrvx)

    Also, how long do you think I’d be in jail for punching a cop and setting fire to a trash can? Would the cop go inside to ASK about arresting me, or just taser me until I shit myself? These are the hard questions…

  3. This is frickin’ ridiculous. This woman is obviously unstable with violent tendencies. Duganz is point is real – how long would I be if I kicked a cop? How long would I even be standing?

    I hope your last sentence isn’t foreboding, liz. This is obviously – but maybe not to local law enforcement at both the city and the county level – a significant public safety risk.

    I think the hospital used to be funded for one or 2 beds for these types of situations, but lost, but lost their funding maybe 2 or 3 years ago.

  4. Jose Soplar

    Hey, this lady is stealin’ my RETIREMENT plan! In a few more years, when I got nothing left ‘cept medical bills and no way to pay them, I’ll put everything I got left in the kids’ names, write me a nice note, and walk into the nearest bank, hand it to the nice lady, and make an illegal withdrawl! Then, I’ll sit down and quitely wait to be arrested and let uncle SAM pay my room and board and medical expenses until in croak. Hell, why not? But this lady is screwing up my plans. I’m beginning to have second thoughts. I don’t WANT to murder anyone, but I might have to! (just kidding about that part, but all the rest is serious)

  5. None of us are personally familiar with this poor lady, but it seems like this is her way of getting attention and free room and board, while wiser minds and charitable hearts are not eager to reward it. If Dugan were to commit the same deed, it wouldn’t be the same crime, and he’d deserve jail.

    “Fear not him who can kill the body, but fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Hell.”

  6. Chuck

    I agree that this lady needs to be in the correctional system ,maybe back in California if she has violated probation or parole there. The cops and judge are risking serious liability.
    Tell your kids:
    She is a registered sexual offender from California and lists her current address as the local Missoula homeless shelter on Ryman.

    • JC

      What’s your point, Chuck? Besides being snarky about one person out of a multitude?

      The State Registry lists 595 sexual and violent offenders in Missoula. 65 of which have no mappable address (most likely transient), and 20 listed at the Poverello (535 Ryman).

      Yes, let’s tell our kids about all 595 registered individuals. And while we’re at it, lets talk with our kids about a lot of other things: homelessness and transience; mental illness and addiction; poverty hunger and nutrition; what leads to criminal behavior and responsibility/accountability; how to protect themselves against sexual predators (including family members); how to be compassionate and understanding about our social condition.

      Yes, there’s a lot to talk to our kids about. And to each other…

  7. given the economy, i am very surprised that except for a few isolated incidences like this lady, there isn’t more violent civil unrest and even outright rioting in the streets.

    compared to wandering around homeless in minus five temperatures (forecast for this coming monday morning) jail sounds like a pretty good alternative.

    safety nets unraveled a long time ago when it comes to the mentally unstable or severely addicted in our country. as far as i can tell, the current status quo for our legal system is to wait until they are dead or nearly dead and either bury them or haul them in an ambulance to an ICU unit in a hospital where they are treated, stabilized and then dumped back into the streets to repeat the expensive cycle again.

    kick the can down the road and make it somebody else’s problem appears to be the plan. as a nation, we used to just lock up the crazy old uncle in the basement so he wouldn’t hurt himself or others. now we lock our doors and leave him to fend for himself out in the streets. and some call that progress.

    • Jose Soplar

      I RESENT THAT! Are you calling me crazy? Look, if YOU’VE got a better retirement plan than mine, let’s hear it! You see, I’m not kidding. It’s damn COLD on Missoula streets in the winter. Try spendin’ the night out there some time in a box! I’ve been there, done that. Jail’s a heckuva lot warmer. I understand exactly what this lady is doing. Hell, I tried to steal an airplane one time myself. Fortunately, I was too drunk to get it started. A Cessna 150. And yes, I could fly them sober. But drunk, I dunno. And at night. I dunno. I’d probably have gotten airboren allright. But landing it?? That would have been kind of iffy.

  8. lizard19

    update from a story in tomorrow’s Missoulian:

    here’s who dunnit:

    “Justice of the Peace Pro Tem Shane Vannatta released Sterling on her own recognizance Thursday.”

    the other significant comment came from Deputy County Attorney, Jason Marks, who said:

    “It’s unfortunate that for her, jail is not a deterrent. It seems in fact to be the goal. It makes it somewhat challenging to come up with a way to address Carey Sterling.”

    I am really confused by the logic of what’s going on here.

    this person is so intent on getting arrested, she’s willing to commit a FELONY assault on a cop, but because this violent action was perceived as just an attempt to get jailed, this “challenge” was released back on the streets.

    this obviously mentally ill woman has now received the message that she can attack a fucking cop then start a trash can on fire, and in less than 24 hours will be kicked back to the streets.

    what is Carey Sterling going to do if she thinks assaulting a cop isn’t enough to keep her locked up for more than a day?

    it’s really quite shocking, if you think about it.

    Chuck: thanks for highlighting her sex offender status and supposed residence.

    just imagine if her erratic behavior has caused her to be 86’d from a shelter just as a bitter cold snap is bearing down on us.

    the whole thing is a bad deal. and more to come, i’m sure.

  9. JC

    “more to come…”

    I don’t know why I’m adding this, but here’s the blog entry from Cotey Newell, the P.O.E. officer whose Interceptor she stole. The guy deserves a story about him all on his own.

    From the “Montana Sausage Pants” Blog:

    “…I, along with my colleagues, are holocaust machines! We are the destroyers of happiness. We rig up parking meters to run fast. We force people to park in the yellow. We create leased parking lots as a way to lure the non-leased civilian into a fifteen dollar ticket. We trick the unsuspecting masses into parking for longer than two hours. We are out to get YOU. Not that other person who is in violation. YOU. My, what a lovely target you make.

    With every parking ticket we give a baby is sacrificed before the eyes of the parking director and the blood of the immobilized infidels cook in the heat of the hellish flames we keep burning with the money we receive from paid fines. When these people imagine death and the unholy afterlife known as hell, I can only guess that all they see is the parking commission. At least, that’s how these individuals act…

    And then there’s when my Interceptor got jacked by a barefoot mentally deranged woman…”

    Um, my apologies to Cotey Newell for taking this just a little bit out of context. My, what a difference an ellipsis can make.

    I wonder what the ellipses in Corey Sterling’s life would reveal?

  10. Pogo Possum

    Cotey Newell – Missoula’s Schmuck of the Year

    This is a bit off topic, but I wonder what Cotey Newell’s supervisors would say if they read some of the BS he writes about his public relations stunts and his online trashing of his fellow employees.

    Here is a sample from his web site. He is bragging how he “had to f*ck with” a co-worker he claims has a mental disability. I deleted the names of his victims and some words that might give away their identity.

    “….She has some sort of mental disability that keeps Super Boss very responsive to whatever completely ludicrous demands this woman is inclined to make; presumably under the threat of a lawsuit. XXXXXXX’s mental handicap is so slight that one would probably never know about it unless told otherwise. Also, the big stupid XXXXX she wears could be a potential give-away.

    Either way, XXXXX has a very peculiar way of doing things in her XXXXXX. She’s been doing it for fifteen years, so she obviously has some system that makes sense only to her. After hearing countless stories of how this XX year old woman would literally throw a temper tantrum and go home “sick” if something were amiss (i.e. the bills in the cash register not facing a certain way) I knew I had to fuck with her while I was covering her lunch break one day. Also because I’m a dick, yes.

    I dug around . . . . . until I found an ink stamp that said OPEN IMMEDIATELY. I then turned on her plethora of Post It note pads. I thumbed through the pads to about the middle of each one before plastering every page with OPEN IMMEDIATELY. It was something I knew she wouldn’t find right away. So when she did there would be no way she could trace it back to me.

    Eventually she found the tainted pages. I knew this because I found them piled on the break room table with the first page of each saying OPEN IMMEDIATELY. After a week of them sitting there I noticed that people (not XXXXXX) were using them. So, I took a pen, dug to the middle of the last full Post It pad and wrote on one page only:

    (Insert name here) ___________________ eats their own farts.”

    Cotey then goes on to brag about messing with another employee:

    “That short aside leads back to XXXXXX. She hates anything that takes Christ out of Christmas and she would have you know that she most certainly DOES NOT EAT HER OWN FARTS! She called me into the office to let me know that. I couldn’t help but laugh at her. I laughed so hard when she told me that she doesn’t eat her own farts. That only made her more angry. Her explanation was priceless:

    “It’s not funny Cotey. What if we were audited? The auditors would come in here and search our records and find this crude comment. We get our money from the [so and so] and that comes from a [such and such] that goes back to the mayor. What if the mayor saw this?! Then what, Cotey?”

    She essentially explained to me that I could be solely responsible for the downfall of the Missoula Parking Commission if the mayor found out that someone on the inside eats their own farts. I agree. How could anyone fund an organization that employs flatus consumers? Anyway… That’s XXXXXX.”

    I know the woman Cotey felt he had to“f*uck with” and I am not amused. She is a very nice and innocent woman. I am going to nominate Cotey for Missoula’s “Schmuck Of The Year Award.” I hope someone let’s his supervisors know about his immature behavior that won’t be so funny if/when one of his fellow workers sues the city for harassment and hostile work enviornment.

  11. sounds like ann guest is running a real worm farm down there.

    good god. talk about dysfunctional….. makes one wonder just how efficiently the work is getting done in splat cat land.

  12. Chuck

    Efficient enough to manipulate the city into agreeing to a no bid, design- build contract on the new parking garage. Pretty much unheard of these days.

  13. the question i always ask myself when confronted by the wasteful inefficient and incompetent in government is “what is the downside for them?” in other words, what is the incentive to behave better?” there is none. incompetence and inefficiency are often rewarded with more resources and pay raises.

    the same holds true for corporate executives and for the corporations who keep finding new ways to fleece the consumers……..”what’s the downside?” they are never fined or rarely fined enough to make it more profitable to act with any degree of decency or ethical business behavior.

    caught between these two systems of rewarding bad behavior and punishing good is the taxpayer and the consumer. in other words- the rest of us who must reach in our pockets and pay and pay…

    *and why does it cost the city 26000.00 to buy a glorified golf cart for parking ticketers? you can negotiate a brand new Ford F-150 SLT 4X4 at bitterroot for that kind of cash.

    sorry- i forgot to quote the section of sausage pants blog that talked about the cost of these parking scooters ….

    *The GO-4 parking enforcement scooter cost $24,577 when it was purchased in 2006, said vehicle maintenance superintendent Jack Stucky, while new models cost about $28,000. Stucky estimated the damage from Tuesday’s crash would cost the city about $2,000,

    must be made of titanium with rolls royce 2 cylinder engines!

  14. The_Boneshackler

    Yet another argument for reforming America’s criminally inadequate ‘health care’ system. If this woman had access to mental health services, perhaps she could find a job and become a contributing member of society instead of a taxpayer liability. Unfortunately, Saint Reagan set the precedent of dumping the mentally ill, including Vietnam Veterans, onto the streets back in the 80s. Just wait until the next generation of brain damaged veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan only to find no jobs, no help, and no compassion. If you think that the homeless population is out of hand now, just wait. Screwing over returning veterans is official Pentagon policy:

    • Pentagon Continues to Use “Personality Disorder” Discharges to Cheat Veterans Out of Benefits — http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/04/20/pentagon-continues-to-use-personality-disorder-discharges-to-cheat-veterans-out-of-benefits/

    • Pentagon Betrays Troops Again: ‘Adjustment Disorder’ Discharges Soar: No Benefits, no respect — http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/08/10/pentagon-betrays-troops-again-adjustment-disorder-discharges-soar-no-benefits-no-respect/

  15. Pogo Possum

    One of my friends in the health care industry said Sterling had previously been in a mental institution and commented that you can treat people and give them the medicine they need to “become a contributing member of society” but it is difficult to legally make them take their meds and even more difficult to legally keep them institutionalized forever.

    • JC

      “even more difficult to legally keep them institutionalized forever.”

      What’s your solution, jail?

      Your friend in the “health care industry” was partially right–Sterling had spent some time in Warm Springs it seems.

      But most people, when their mental illness is properly treated want to remain in recovery. The impediments to doing so are many: social stigma; lack of health insurance and access to regular health care; poverty and its attendant difficulty finding and keeping a meaningful job; homelessness…

      The deck is stacked mightily against people like Carey Sterling. What is our role as a society and community to see that she is given an opportunity to “become a contributing member of society?” Or is it our role to sit back and when the inevitable fuckups occur, we tut-tut and lament about our burgeoning DOC and DPHHS budgets as they come under attack? And then we drop a few coins in Santa’s bucket at the megamart entrances to assuage our guilt as we shop till we drop?

      The first thing that comes to mind is how the republicans are using economic terrorism to obstruct our country’s ability to fight the Great Recession as a strategy to return them to political power in the White House. It’s disgusting. And the Carey Sterlings in our community are just pawns in this corrupt, hyper power-politics environment.




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