Brandon Touchette, who could face a lengthy prison terms in a pending robbery case, pleaded guilty to three drug charges in Missoula District Court on Monday.

Touchette, 22, pleaded guilty to possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Those charges were filed last fall after Montana Highway Patrol officers found Touchette in possession of the drugs when they went to arrest him on an unrelated warrant.

Touchette pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement that calls for a five-year sentence at Montana State Prison, with a recommendation that he serve time in the prison's boot camp program. The drug charges, however, are not Touchette's most significant problem. He's also charged with two counts of felony theft that stem from a stolen car incident in October.

However, his biggest problem involves his arrest in mid-May for a series of robberies at Missoula casinos. Touchette is accused of robbing the Best Bet Casino, Diamond's Jim's and the casino at Mullan Station.

Touchette and two other men also are accused of planning to commit another robbery the night they were caught while allegedly trying to steal a getaway car outside the Sleep Inn on May 18. The men allegedly were armed with metal pipes during the casino robberies.

At Monday's hearing before District Judge Doug Harkin, Touchette pleaded guilty to the drug charges, but he also filed a motion asking another judge to take over the robbery case instead of Harkin.

The robbery case is on hold pending the appointment of a different judge. The theft case is continued until July 26.

Wednesday - 6/30/99

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