Two Musselshell County commissioners charged with making false statements about alleged assault

Posted at 8:10 AM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 10:10:24-04

(BILLINGS) Two Musselshell County commissioners face misdemeanor charges of giving false reports of an assault outside their office to law enforcement in February.

Documents filed on May 21 in Musselshell County Justice Court list Thomas D. Berry and Robert Thornton Goffena, the two commissioners, as defendants.

The charging documents state that each “provided false information to a Musselshell County sheriff’s deputy that someone assaulted him, knowing that was not true with the purpose to implicate a man identified as "T.E.”

The documents were filed by Morgan Dake, a Yellowstone County deputy prosecutor. Dake was assigned special Musselshell County deputy attorney because the case involves Musselshell County officials.

When contacted by MTN, Goffena and Berry declined to comment. Goffena’s term as commissioner is up at the end of this year, and he has not filed for re-election. Berry, a former state lawmaker, is up for re-election in 2022.

On February 5, Musselshell County Deputy Sheriff Jared Johnson responded to a report that T.E. shoved Goffena at the Musselshell County courthouse.

A witness told Johnson that Goffena pushed the man.

The man told Johnson that he followed Berry and Goffena to the commissioner’s office to speak with them.

According to the affidavit, the man said he stuck his foot in the door and Goffena tried to close the door.

The man also said Goffena hit him in the sternum and pushed him back.

The man said he did not push Goffena.

Johnson looked at video footage which showed Goffena shoving the man “ backward with his right hand while closing the door with the left hand.”

The affidavit stated, “Throughout the footage, T.E. does not appear to make physical contact with Goffena.”

Goffena said in his statement that the man "then pushed me on top of my left arm to stop me from getting the doorknob to close door and then pushed me in the chest backward so I couldn’t reach the doorknob.”

Berry said in his statement, “…I saw Robert Goffena reach for the office door to close it to keep [T.E.] out.  As he did [T.E.] pushed Mr. Goffena and appeared to grab his left arm/shoulder area to keep Robert Goffena from closing the office door.  Robert Goffena pushed [T.E.] away and yelled call 911.”

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