News and Press Releases

Ruben Cota-becerra Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings, on September 16, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, RUBEN COTA-BECERRA, a 45-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. COTA-BECERRA was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 360 months
  • Special Assessment: $400
  • Supervised Release: 5 years

COTA-BECERRA was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute/distribution of methamphetamine and possession with the intent to distribute/distribution of methamphetamine.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Seykora, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

COTA-BECERRA, using the false name of Carlos Perto Leon, was living in Billings and operating a cash only vehicle repair shop in the Lockwood area. COTA-BECERRA stored, weighed out, and distributed methamphetamine from this shop and other locations from late 2005 up to August 2007.

One of COTA-BECERRA'S main recipients of methamphetamine was Gary Gordon. COTA-BECERRA was introduced to Gordon by John Bracy for the purpose of establishing a source of supply of methamphetamine for re-distribution.

From approximately November 2005 until November 2006, COTA-BECERRA would provide Gordon with multiple ounce quantities of methamphetamine for re-distribution. COTA-BECERRA would generally place the methamphetamine inside of latex gloves and deliver it to Gordon in that manner. Early on in the conspiracy, Gordon would receive quarter-pounds of methamphetamine. In approximately January of 2006, COTA-BECERRA provided Gordon with half-pound quantities. Gordon would receive methamphetamine from COTA-BECERRA every three or four days during the period of the conspiracy.

On November 3, 2006, law enforcement officers searched Gordon's home in Laurel. COTA-BECERRA and Gordon had a disagreement regarding further distribution from COTA-BECERRA to Gordon as law enforcement seized a large quantity of distributable methamphetamine. As a result John Bracy agreed to act as a middleman between COTA-BECERRA and Gordon. COTA-BECERRA would distribute the methamphetamine to Bracy; Bracy in turn would give it to Gordon. Gordon would deliver cash to Bracy and Bracy would give the cash to COTA-BECERRA in payment for the methamphetamine to continue the conspiracy.

Bracy admitted that from mid-November 2006 to mid-January 2007, he received three to six pounds of methamphetamine from COTA-BECERRA to give to Gordon. Gordon stated that during the period of the conspiracy he received over 40 pounds of methamphetamine from COTA-BECERRA for redistribution. Gordon, in turn, would deliver the methamphetamine to a network of individuals in varying quantities who then redistributed the methamphetamine in Billings, Bozeman, Browning, and other locations.

Law enforcement seized the following methamphetamine from Gary Gordon that COTA-BECERRA had provided him for redistribution:

November 3, 2006: 177.5 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 144.3 grams of actual methamphetamine;

November 21, 2006: 196.1 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 183.2 grams of actual methamphetamine; and

January 15, 2007: 206.8 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 168.8 grams of actual methamphetamine

Gordon was paying $2,000 per ounce for the methamphetamine from COTA-BECERRA, and Gordon would then sell it for $2,400 an ounce.

When arrested, COTA-BECERRA admitted to knowing Gordon and Bracy. During a search of COTA-BECERRA'S shop, a digital scale containing methamphetamine residue, latex gloves, and documents in COTA-BECERRA'S false name were recovered.

Gordon and Bracy plead guilty to federal charges. Gordon has been sentenced and Bracy is awaiting sentencing.

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

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Billings Police Department and the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office.



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