James Russell Clark

James Russell Clark leaves Gallatin County District Court on Tuesday after pleading not guilty to several felonies.

A Bozeman man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that accuse him of telling his kids to stash several large bags of marijuana when police officers came to his house.

James Russell Clark, 38, is charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal child endangerment and accountability for tampering with or fabricating evidence, all felonies. He appeared in Gallatin County District Court before Judge Holly Brown.

Clark has been held at the Gallatin County jail on $75,000 bail since last month.

In January, Bozeman police responded to North Sixth Avenue for a report of unsupervised kids, ages 4 to 14, throwing axes in a front yard, according to charging documents.

A child opened the door and officers said the house smelled like marijuana.

Police said in charging documents that Clark’s eyes were red and watery. Clark came outside to talk to the officers, paced around his yard and told his two older sons something through the front door while officers called his probation officer, police said.

Meanwhile, court documents say, officers heard movement in the garage that sounded like plastic trash bags being stuffed.

The officers handcuffed Clark for acting aggressive and trying to go back inside his home, police said in charging documents.

When officers searched the house, they found one child coming out of the attic and another standing in a pile of marijuana leaves, court documents say. Officers found several large bags of marijuana and trimmings. Another large bag of marijuana was found in the attic.

Police said in charging documents that the marijuana was in different manufacturing stages, including full leaves and ground leaves soaking to be converted into “hash.”

One of the boys hiding the marijuana told an officer they found the bags of marijuana the night before while “dumpster diving” and brought it back to the house, court documents say. He said they were in the garage when officers arrived, and that they tried hiding the bags when Clark told them to “get rid of the stuff,” court documents say.

Officers arrested Clark.

At the jail, Clark told officers that his kids found the bags of marijuana in a dumpster the night before and brought them into his home, court documents say. Police said Clark admitted that he was breaking down the marijuana for his girlfriend and that he told the kids to get rid of the bags before officers showed up to his house, not after they got there.

If convicted, Clark could face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $65,000.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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