News and Press Releases

Christopher A. Ness Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings, on February 19, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, CHRISTOPHER A. NESS, a 22-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. NESS was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 140 months
  • Special Assessment: $ 200
  • Supervised Release: 8 years

NESS was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

Testimony would have been presented that NESS distributed cocaine to an undercover officer on the following dates and in the following amounts:

Date Amount

02/14/08 6.5 grams of cocaine

02/15/08 25.5 grams of cocaine

02/19/08 12.2 grams of cocaine

04/3/08 7.4 grams of cocaine

04/17/08 4.7 grams of cocaine

04/24/08 7.2 grams of cocaine

On April 30, 2008, NESS was stopped outside of Park City while traveling east bound on I-90 in his 2001 BMW. The car was seized and on May 1, 2008, law enforcement officers applied for and received authorization to search the BMW registered to NESS. Seized in the search were 275 grams of cocaine and a loaded Taurus 25 caliber Model PT25 handgun.

On May 14, 2008, NESS was interviewed and admitted that he distributed 5 pounds of powder cocaine to various individuals in the Billings area between November of 2007 and April 30, 2008, and that he had obtained the cocaine seized in the BMW on April 30, 2008, in Seattle for further distribution. NESS further admitted that he purchased the BMW with drug proceeds and that he traded a quarter gram of cocaine to a juvenile for the firearm. He also stated that he used the firearm for protection of drug proceeds and the cocaine in his vehicle on April 30, 2008, and carried the firearm with him as he possessed and distributed cocaine.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that NESS will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, NESS does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Seykora prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was conducted by the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force.



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