News and Press Releases

Billy Joe Thorne Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Helena, on December 17, 2009, before Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell, BILLY JOE THORNE, a 46-year-old resident of Garrison, appeared for sentencing. THORNE was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 13 months
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Supervised Release: 4 years

THORNE was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.

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

On or about October 8, 2008, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant after having found a marijuana growing operation in Garrison. The marijuana grow consisted of three greenhouses that contained just over 200 full-grown marijuana plants.

When interviewed by law enforcement, THORNE stated that he owned the property and admitted to growing marijuana in the three greenhouses. THORNE also stated that Christian Gochis was one of his partners in the marijuana grow and that the marijuana came from Gochis and California. He also said that the marijuana grow was about three weeks from harvest and that Gochis and Develin Moore helped him tend the marijuana plants. THORNE stated that most of the 2007 marijuana was stolen when he took a trip back home to Mississippi, however he was able to distribute some of the 2007 marijuana.

Officers took photographs of the marijuana grow operation during their execution of the search warrant. They also took samples of the marijuana and shipped those samples to the DEA laboratory in San Francisco. Laboratory analysis confirmed that the plants were marijuana.

Gochis and Moore were found guilty after a trial and are awaiting sentencing.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that THORNE will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, THORNE 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 Drug Enforcement Administration.



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