2/11/2020

naconda-Deer Lodge County Attorney Ben Krakowka has been charged with disorderly conduct in Powell County in connection with a hunting dispute during which he fired his rifle. The man he was arguing with, Doug Fortner, was also charged with disorderly conduct for challenging Krakowka to a fight.

According to court documents, Krakowka and Daniel Guzynski were hunting on state land in Powell County on Nov. 9 of last year. The two “were positioned approximately 400 yards apart, waiting for big-game animals to move into this area,” the complaint against Krakowka states.

At one point Krakowka noticed another hunter, later identified as Fortner, who had moved into a position between the other two hunters. Fortner later said he was about 150 yards from Krakowka.

Fortner, who has addresses in Deer Lodge and Missoula, later said he saw the other hunters when he walked up, but contended he was just resting in the position between them for a time.

But when Fortner did not budge, a “heated verbal exchange (argument with yelling) ensued,” according to the complaints.

Krakowka then fired his rifle once into the air “in the opposite direction” from Fortner, according to his statement, allegedly to ruin the hunting. Krakowka and Guzynski told police that Krakowka never pointed his rifle at Fortner.

Fortner said he believed that Krakowka did point the rifle at him, but said he did not think Krakowka was shooting at him.

The argument continued, and all the hunters moved back to a parking area, where Fortner challenged Krakowka to a fight, according to the complaints.

Krakowka declined to fight but responded with an obscenity, according to the documents.

The identical charges against Krakowka and Fortner, both first offenses, carry a maximum $100 fine.

To avoid any conflict, Granite County Attorney Blaine C. Bradshaw, serving as a “Special Deputy Powell County Attorney,” is prosecuting the cases.

A message was left Tuesday afternoon for Krakowka at his Anaconda office.

Krakowka is ordered to appear before Justice of the Peace Melissa Gallagher in Deer Lodge on March 11. Fortner is ordered to appear before her on March 13.

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