GREAT FALLS - A former deputy Yellowstone County attorney charged with trying to hire a jail inmate to kill his estranged wife has decided not to contest an amended charge of criminal endangerment, according to documents filed in District Court Monday.
Jeffrey Lynch, 36, who now practices in Billings and formerly practiced law in Great Falls, would receive a two-year deferred sentence. It could be dismissed and erased from his record after one year if he follows the conditions of probation.
District Judge David Rice of Havre set a hearing for Wednesday. If Rice does not accept the agreement, Lynch may withdraw his plea and stand trial.
A charge of criminal endangerment means is accused of knowingly engaging in conduct that constitutes a substantial risk of death or bodily injury to another. He originally was charged with solicitation of deliberate homicide.
By pleading no contest to the lesser charge, Lynch would not admit guilt but would admit the state has enough evidence to convict him at trial.
Lynch, a one-time Great Falls public defender and candidate for justice of the peace, is accused of trying to hire regional jail inmate Clifford Wagner, 36, to kill Marlo Olszewski, with whom he is embroiled in a child custody dispute.
Investigators said Lynch met Wagner after Lynch was arrested nearly a year ago on charges he violated the terms of a restraining order obtained by Olszewski.
While in jail, he allegedly told Wagner he would help him with a pending civil suit and turn over all settlement money to Wagner if Wagner would "take care of" Olszewski.
Rice previously refused to dismiss the case. He is hearing the case and state lawyers are prosecuting it to avoid any conflict of interest with the Cascade County attorney's office and local judges before whom he appeared.