Lake County Sheriff Don Bell announced on Thursday that combined law enforcement agencies have broken up a theft and burglary ring in the area, and that suspects have also carried out retaliation against officials in the area.

“After a months-long investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of Montana Highway Patrol and Flathead Tribal Police, Deputies have solved a series of Mission Valley thefts and burglaries,” said Sheriff Bell. “LCSO and MHP also recovered parts of a stolen truck owned by the State of Montana, and developed suspects in a couple of troubling cases in which law enforcement officers were targeted by local criminals.”

Bell laid out details of the investigation and some of the arrests that have already been made.

“In total, eight search warrants have been conducted on suspect properties, with numerous items being recovered and returned to their rightful owners,” he said. “Todd Lozeau, 36, of Charlo, was arrested after running from officers during the execution of a search warrant.  He has been charged with 1 count of burglary, 2 counts of tampering with evidence, felony theft, and other theft and in addition, burglary related charges are pending. He is currently in the Lake County Jail. Paul Groom, 43, also of Charlo, was arrested on an outstanding warrant has been charged with 1 burglary and 1 theft and he is currently in jail. Tanya Phillips was arrested on an outstanding warrant and has been charged with 1 burglary and 1 theft, and she is also in jail.”

Bell then provided details of retaliation attempts by unknown suspects against Lake County deputies.

“Through this investigation, deputies have also developed suspects in the case of buckets of nails being dumped on county roads directly in front of the homes of law enforcement officers,” he said. “Thousands of dollars in damages resulted in this case due to the officers and area residents running over the nails.  This investigation is ongoing and the Lake County Commissioners have stated they will provide reward money to anyone providing the Sheriff’s Office with information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in this case.”

There was another very troubling incident of retaliation reported by Sheriff Bell.

“Also through this investigation, deputies have developed a suspect in a case where a local law enforcement officer’s family dog was abducted, beaten, and dumped at a truck stop in St. Regis,” he said. “The dog was returned to its family.  This case also remains under investigation and anyone with further information is encouraged to contact Deputy Larson.”

Deputy Larson’s contact information is below.

Deputy Larson: Email: slarson@lakemt.gov or call 406-249-3021.