Archive for April 4th, 2009

Monte Stiles

Monte Stiles

Recently I had a unique opportunity to hear Monte Stiles speak, who for over 26 years as a state and federal drug prosecutor witnessed the darkest sides of society.  He has worked hundreds of drug, gang and murder cases in the court system which is littered with grieving families of every stripe.  The years of prosecution took a toll as he found it more and more difficult to see anything positive about society and depression set in.  But, through an interest in photography, he rediscovered the wonders of people, places and life and shares a message of hope and inspiration.

Stiles graduated from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and was hired as a deputy prosecutor in Idaho’s Ada County Prosecutor’s Office.   In 1984, he was appointed as the Supervising Attorney of the new Ada County Drug Prosecution Unit.   Soon after, Stiles was appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to work with the federal drug task force.   In 1987, he was hired by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to run the federal Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force – a group of agents and prosecutors who investigate and prosecute high-level drug trafficking organizations.   In 1995, the Stiles family moved to Washington D.C. where he was on detail for the Department of Justice (DOJ).   While there, he served as Special Counsel to the Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.   He later returned to Idaho and resumed his duties with the Federal Drug Task Force.  He has taught advanced narcotics and money laundering for the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina.   He is also an adjunct professor at Boise State University, where he teaches on the Criminal Justice Department.

Stiles provided a number of colorful legal stories while reviewing his photography techniques.  One of the more interesting was about Dwayne “Shadow” Fitzen , of the Aliens MC Nomad Motorcycle Club.  Fitzen, considered a motorcycle gang member by LEO was convicted of cocaine distribution in 1992.  He was sentenced to 24 years in prison. In 2004, after serving 12 years the feds put Fitzen (unescorted) on a Greyhound bus in Waseca, Minn., bound for the federal prison in Lompoc, Ca.  Fitzen never check himself in and disappeared in Las Vegas, after withdrawing $12,000 from a bank account. This little-known furlough program, called “voluntary surrenders” was started by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1996 to save money and relieve prison crowding.  Greyhound knew nothing of the program or the dangers it put passengers under and was outraged.  Even Sen. Joseph Biden worked in 2005 to find out how many prisoners escaped during these so called “bus trips”, but was unsuccessful in getting information from the Justice Department. A press release from the U.S. Marshals Service provides more information.

More recently Stiles has obtained the first federal jury trial and conviction of a Firefighter/arsonist on BLM lands in Idaho.  In addition, as part of Operation Mountain Lion, an 18-month investigation which netted 50 suspects in Idaho and three other states all are serving time in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms.  Though still a practicing trial attorney, he spends much more of his time seeking out beautiful landscapes, climbing mountains, tracking wildlife, and capturing it all with his camera.

It was an inspiring message of hope at a time when much of the news in this world is fairly dark.

UPDATE: September 21, 2009 —  I’m now uncertain of the accuracy of the press statement above (or in my comment below) which states Mr. Fitzen was a member of the Aliens MC Nomads Motorcycle Club.  As a result I’ve corrected the post and stricken out the text.  Mr. Fitzen appears to have rode with a variety of motorcycle clubs, but his actual membership in any club is in question.  Much thanks to Larry Neuberger for providing corrections.

Photo courtesy Monte Stiles web site.

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