The Washington man accused of vandalizing several Bigfork businesses in the early morning hours of Dec. 11 pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to a charge of felony burglary in Flathead County District Court. Christopher David Van Natta faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in state prison and a $50,000 fine.
His bond was originally set at $50,000 with a requirement to obtain a drug patch, but the court granted a reduction of bond during the Jan. 2 hearing to a new total of $25,000.
According to the police affidavit, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office received multiple reports from Bigfork businesses, including Sliter’s Lumber and Building Supply, that doors and windows had been broken. Surveillance footage from Sliter’s showed an individual who appeared to resemble Van Natta. When questioned by detective Scott McConnell, Van Natta allegedly admitted to breaking several glass doors and windows of local businesses, including making entry into Sliter’s. Records show Van Natta reportedly stated that he was looking for money to steal so he could purchase drugs.
Van Natta was arrested in Whitefish and booked into the Flathead County Detention Center on Friday, Dec. 12 on a separate charge of disorderly conduct. The sheriff’s office was able to link him to the break-ins after examining video surveillance footage and speaking with Van Natta. Sites that were subject to vandalism included Sliters and the Bigfork VFW, dispatch logs show. Two other callers from undisclosed Montana Highway 35 locations also reported bricks thrown through their windows, according to the logs.
In addition to felony burglary, Van Natta is facing a three misdemeanor charges including resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. »