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Somers man sentenced for negligent vehicular assault, theft

| May 17, 2023 11:20 AM

A Somers man received a partially-suspended sentence in April for allegedly stealing a construction van last year, driving recklessly and eventually crashing into a camper in Whitefish.

Benjamin Edward Brant, 44, earned a 10-year sentence with the state Department of Corrections with five years suspended for felony negligent vehicular assault on April 13 as well as five years for felony theft of property. The two sentences run concurrently.

Brant pleaded guilty to both charges in Flathead County District Court on Feb. 24 after reaching an agreement with prosecutors.

Authorities arrested Brant on Sept. 28 following the wreck with the camper. According to court documents, Brant stole the van from a Kalispell business and then headed up U.S. 93 toward Whitefish, at times driving in the wrong lane and later running red lights.

Several people in the camper suffered injuries in the collision, court documents said.

Workers at a nearby construction site restrained Brant until Whitefish Police officers arrived at the site of the wreck, according to court documents. He allegedly gave investigators a fake name.

Prosecutors initially brought Brant up on criminal endangerment, theft of property, driving under the influence — fourth of subsequent offense — and criminal mischief charges. He pleaded not guilty to all at his Oct. 27, 2022 arraignment before Judge Dan Wilson.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors amended the driving under the influence charge to negligent vehicular assault in February and dropped all others with the exception of the theft charge.

At Brant’s April sentencing, Wilson granted him credit for 197 days of time served.