May 27th, 2024

In Court: Known local drug offender gets conditional bail for new charges

By Medicine Hat News on May 10, 2024.


Authorities have released information about a drug bust and arrests made last month while one of the men arrested was granted bail Thursday.

Aaron Hotchen, 59, was one of four individuals named by the ALERT crime investigations team which said officers intercepted drug shipments consisting of a pound of cocaine and a pound of methamphetamine on April 11 and 30.

In custody since then, Hotchen was granted bail Thursday morning on condition that he remain under 24-hour house arrest at a location outside Medicine Hat.

ALERT detailed the arrests, made in mid-April, in a press release Thursday morning. Officials say drugs valued at $90,000 were seized in two vehicle stops with the aid of Medicine Hat police and Brooks RCMP during an investigation that began in February.

Suspected drugs taken were 500 grams of methamphetamine and 573 grams of cocaine, according to police.

Hotchen and a co-accused, Melissa Shpak, 34, of Medicine Hat, have appeared in Court of Justice at Medicine Hat in the last few weeks on charges of possessing narcotics for the purpose of trafficking.

Two others named it the ALERT press release are Terry Van Huizen, 31, and Heidi Clampitt, 25, both of Medicine Hat. Their specific charges and the status in the courts in not immediately clear.

Stiff sentence for restaurant holdup

A Redcliff man who threatened staff of a city restaurant with what appeared to be pistol in late 2022 was sentenced Thursday to four and a half years in federal prison.

Travis Marvin Lange, 32, was given one year of credit for time already spent in custody, and will serve another 42 months after pleading guilty to robbery.

He was also charged with assault with a weapon and using an imitation after he was apprehended following a search of the South Hill communities on Dec. 29, 2022.

Eventually police used a drone to locate the man who restaurant managers said demanded cash and brandished what appeared to be a firearm before a scuffle.

Police recovered a Glock-style BB gun that prosecutors say appeared realistic and heightened the danger in an “inherently violent” armed robbery.

“It is serious,” said Justice Mark Mastel during sentencing that arrived via a joint submission from defence and Crown attorneys.

“A person faced with a firearm believes their life is hanging in the balance. It’s of grave concern to the court. I’m grateful there was no injury.”

Court heard Lange had a previous criminal record for property crime.

“He had a decent upbringing, he’s smart, but it’s all due to addiction issues,” sad defence attorney Justin Dean. “Hopefully this not insignificant sentence will set him further down the road of recovery.”

Fined for stealing ice

Using bolt cutters to clean out an ice machine at a convenience store in Dunmore and having stolen credit cards at a Medicine Hat hotel will cost a local woman a total of $1,250 in court-imposed fines.

Kathleen Anne Rose, 26, was part of a group of people who were caught on video stealing bags of ice in late 2023, according to police, who also found her in possession of other people’s credit cards during a separate complaint later last year.

The latter earned a $700 fine agreed to by defence lawyers and Crown prosecutors, while another fine for failing to attend court was set at $350.

Attorney Marc Crarer said his client hopes to reform and attend school, but her legal troubles extend from associating with criminal elements.

Justice Mastel said theft should not be considered lightly.

“It’s of very little value, but combined with credits cards make it more serious than it would first appear,” said Mastel. “It’s more concerning the longer this goes, and at some point custody is something the court may consider – that’s not today, but let’s hope the message is getting through.”

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