News and Press Releases

andrew G. Cottrell Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on June 23, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, ANDREW G. COTTRELL, a 27-year-old resident of Kalispell, pled guilty to possession of marijuana, methamphetamine and oxycontin. Sentencing is set for August 26, 2009. He is currently detained.

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

On the afternoon of November 17, 2007, an officer on patrol near the north end of the Lion Lake recreation area in the Flathead National Forest encountered COTTRELL and his girlfriend. COTTRELL's car was parked in front of a closed gate about one-quarter mile from Lion Lake.

The officer approached COTTRELL'S car and saw COTTRELL in the driver's seat and COTTRELL'S girlfriend in the passenger seat. COTTRELL'S driver-side window was rolled down about three inches and just moments into the conversation, COTTRELL opened the car door because the window was broken and could not be rolled down all the way.

The officer identified himself and immediately smelled marijuana coming from COTTRELL'S car. He asked COTTRELL for his driver's license and returned to his patrol vehicle. When he came back to COTTRELL'S car, he told COTTRELL that he intended to use a trained canine to sweep outside the vehicle. COTTRELL asked why and the officer explained that he smelled marijuana coming from the car. COTTRELL then offered to show something to the officer. Before the officer answered, COTTRELL produced a zip-lock bag with seven oxycontin pills and a small amount of marijuana. COTTRELL told the officer that the oxycontin pills were not prescribed to him.

The officer put the marijuana and oxycontin in his car. When he got back to COTTRELL'S vehicle, he observed another zip-lock bag on the ground by the driver's door. The bag contained methamphetamine. The officer COTTRELL what was in the bag and COTTRELL told stated that he did not know. At that point, the officer handcuffed COTTRELL, read him his rights, and put him in the back of the patrol vehicle. The officer searched the car and found a small black bag on the driver's side floor board, near the pedals. The bag contained a glass pipe and a second zip-lock bag of methamphetamine. It also contained several other items, including two empty zip-lock bags, a set of keys with an Albertson's tag attached, and Lunesta tablets.

The officer returned to his patrol vehicle with all the seized items. COTTRELL asked if he could see what he had found. COTTRELL admitted the keys with the Albertson's tag belonged to him, but said the other items in the bag must belong to his friend. The officer then asked COTTRELL when COTTRELL had last smoked marijuana in the car and COTTRELL told him that "someone" had likely smoked in the car the previous day.

COTTRELL faces possible penalties of 1 year in prison, a $100,000 fine and 1 year supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was conducted by the Law Enforcement and Investigations Division of the Forest Service.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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