Just a Hair: Former Bank Robber Ordered to Take a Follicle Test for Drugs
The probation revocation hearing for a former serial bank robber was stalled in federal court on Friday by a hair.
A real hair.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ordered Joshua Michael Beckstead to undergo a hair follicle test to determine if he recently used any illegal drugs, and that happened after the judge loudly castigated the defendant.
"You have an excused song and dance for everything," Skavdahl told him.
The hearing was the latest in Beckstead's long criminal history coupled with a long history of substance abuse.
In 2012, Beckstead robbed banks in Cheyenne and Cody, and banks and credit unions in Oklahoma, Montana and Utah. The spree started after he walked away from a furlough program in Ogden, Utah, where he was serving time for forgery.
Law enforcement arrested him in Nebraska in July 2012
The federal cases were consolidated and assigned to the Wyoming U.S. District Court, where Beckstead was found guilty on the five robbery counts.
In 2013, he was sentenced to more than nine years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised probation. He was in treatment for mental health and substance abuse at the Volunteers of America Northern Rockies facility in Sheridan.
His probation was revoked in May 2021 and was sentenced to 60 days to be followed by two years of supervised probation.
Last year, Beckstead again violated the terms of that probation. Skavdahl revoked that probation in August, and sentenced him to six months imprisonment to be followed by 18 months of supervised release.
That term ended on Feb. 3, when Beckstead was unsuccessfully discharged from the treatment program.
During Friday's hearing, Beckstead, accompanied by his Federal Public Defender Tracy Hucke, admitted he violated the terms of his probation by accepting a box of drug test kits from a former roommate.
Beckstead packed the box in a suitcase with some clothing and was about to embark on a new life with a car, car registration, driver's license, a place to live, a job, a doctor and an addiction doctor, he said.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Sprecher said taking the drug test kits showed Beckstead intended to relapse.
Beckstead said he had been sober since May. "I had my whole life set."
Skavdahl reminded him that he did admit he violate the terms of probation.
Beckstead responded that he was going to succeed. "One stupid decisions should not stop my road to recovery."
Hucke argued for probation, and if the judge didn't accept that she suggested seven months incarceration at a place where he could continue treatment.
Federal Probation Officer Josh Oster told Skavdahl that Beckstead was doing well in treatment, but taking the drug test kit was was illegal.
Beckstead said he was asking the court for one last chance. "You'll never see me again."
Skavdahl then turned on the white noise-maker and asked Oster to speak with him.
After that, the judge lit into Beckstead.
"You put (the drug test kits) in a suitcase. What were you going to with them? Take them to the beach?"
"You talk three times; you should listen three times," Skavdahl said.
As long as Beckstead has the drug test kits, he is susceptible to relapse, he said.
At that, Skavdahl ordered the hair follicle test to determine whether Beckstead had been using illegal controlled substances.
Oster said the results of the test should be back in a week.
Skavdahl ordered Beckstead to remain in custody.