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Havre Woman Charged With Felony For Allegedly Helping Escapee-Son Elude Capture

Update: On Sept. 30, Mariani pleaded not guilty to the charges in this case.

A Havre woman is charged with a felony offense after allegedly helping her escapee-son avoid being caught by local police.

Here’s what happened, according to Hill County court documents:

On July 24, Hill County sheriff’s deputies went to Toni Lynn Mariani’s Havre home to see if she had information on her son, Zachariah Ambler, who had escaped the Alpha House Men’s Pre-release center in Billings on July 20.

Toni Lynn Mariani (Hill County Detention Center booking photo)

Mariani told deputies she knew her son escaped the pre-release center. She said he contacted her and told her he was OK, but did not say where he was.

On Aug. 2, after Ambler was arrested, the sheriff’s office applied for and was granted a search warrant for his cellphone.

The phone revealed that Mariani had lots of contact with Ambler while he was loose:

On July 27, the two talked about Mariani sending Ambler money.

In a July 29 conversation, Mariani told Ambler he needed to move at night or he’d be captured. She further said that she needed to find Ambler a car to get out of town.

On July 30, Mariani told Ambler she might have a “ride outta here.”

On July 31, Mariani asked Ambler if he needed anything. He said he did and sent her his location via text message. Later, he messaged her and said he needed a ride back to Rocky Boy because the females who were driving were too drunk. Mariani went to help Ambler and brought him clothes.

Ambler was eventually found July 31 on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and arrested.

Now Mariani faces a felony obstruction of justice charge and is scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 30 at 9:30 a.m. in Hill County District Court.

She already faced several drug-related charges based on an investigation that began with drug task force agents going through her trash. She pleaded not guilty to those charges on April 29.

Mariani is listed in the Hill County Detention Center on bonds totaling $75,000.


Email Paul Dragu at (406) 262-7778
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