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Gallatin County employee arrested after reportedly claiming to be the Sheriff

Mark K. Ward
Posted at 12:13 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 14:20:08-05

BOZEMAN — Mark K. Ward, who reportedly said he was the new Sheriff of Gallatin County, was arrested Saturday after he allegedly made threats at a Bozeman motel.

Ward, 44 years old, was seen in Gallatin County Justice Court on Monday on a felony charge of impersonating a public servant. Ward was serving as the assistant director of public safety systems for Gallatin County. County officials reportedly terminated his employment as soon as they were made aware of his arrest. Ward had been in the position since February 22, 2021.

According to charging documents, on Saturday, February 27, police officers responded to a Bozeman motel on Wheat Drive after a report made by a manager that a guest was claiming to be the new Sheriff of Gallatin County and was using his position “as a police officer” to demand things from the staff. Ward reportedly also threatened to shoot a guest. The manager told officers that she and her employees felt compelled to give Ward a discount due to their respect and cooperation with local law enforcement.

The total amount of the discount due to Ward’s alleged position was $345.61.

During an interview with a police officer, Ward said he just moved to Montana from California to work for Gallatin County and was staying at the motel while waiting to move into his new residence in Butte.

Ward denied that he had claimed to be the new Sheriff when asked by motel staff, but said he did request a government employee rate, which he said motel staff said would actually cost more than he would pay if he just booked the room using an online service.

In the interview, Ward reportedly acknowledged the motel had waived the pet fee and given him a different room that he requested, but denied knowing that was an upgrade he received for free. He denied ever representing himself as a law enforcement officer or official and said he was very disappointed with the service and stay at the motel.

Gallatin County did indeed get a new Sheriff last week - but it is not Ward.

Dan Springer was appointed to fill the role as long-time Sheriff Brian Gootkin recently accepted the position as the new director of the Montana Department of Corrections.