News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2008
Contact: Thomas E. Murphy
(314) 538-4660

Illinois Man Sentenced to Life in Prison

MAR 3 -- BENTON, IL - A. Courtney Cox, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on February 29, 2008, MONTE S. GEARHART, age 38, of Pomona, Illinois, was sentenced in United States District Court in Benton, Illinois. GEARHART, who had previously been convicted by a jury of conspiracy to manufacture 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, was sentenced to life imprisonment and was fined $500.

At GEARHART’s October 2007 jury trial, the evidence established that, between at least February 2002, and September 19, 2006, GEARHART and others were manufacturing methamphetamine in Union and Jackson Counties. On February 25, 2002, GEARHART was transporting an oxygen tank containing anhydrous ammonia. The tank exploded in his vehicle, injuring GEARHART’s three-year old child. At sentencing, the district judge found that GEARHART had: been involved in the manufacture of over 1.8 kilograms of methamphetamine, possessed firearms during the course of the conspiracy, used a minor in the manufacture of methamphetamine, and created a substantial risk of harm to the life of a minor. Five co-defendants have previously been sentenced for their involvement in the methamphetamine conspiracy.

The investigation was conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Murphysboro Police Department, United States Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives pursuant to their participation in the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative in the Southern District of Illinois. Under the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutors are working together to prosecute drug dealers, felons in possession of firearms, and criminals that use firearms to commit violent offenses or drug trafficking offenses.

The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Amanda A. Robertson for prosecution.