Benjamin William Wrightson Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on October 20, 2010, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, BENJAMIN WILLIAM WRIGHTSON, a resident of Billings, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. Sentencing has been set for January 19, 2011. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph E. Thaggard, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Between 2008 and the present date, law enforcement officers in Billings have investigated the trafficking of cocaine in Billings and Red Lodge.
In September 2008, DEA agents interviewed Matthew Lamonaca. Lamonaca admitted he had obtained large quantities of cocaine from Travis Henry and James Mack, two cocaine distributors in Denver, Colorado. Lamonaca admitted that he then distributed the cocaine in Billings. Lamonaca stated that, in August 2008, he paid WRIGHTSON to travel to Denver to pick up a kilogram of cocaine.
WRIGHTSON was later interviewed and admitted that he knew Lamonaca was a drug dealer. WRIGHTSON admitted that Lamonaca paid him $1,200 in approximately August of 2008 to travel to Denver and pick up a package from Mack. WRIGHTSON admitted, in effect, that he knew the package contained drugs or was aware of the high probability that the package contained drugs and deliberately avoided learning about the actual contents of the package.
Lamonaca, Henry and Mack all pled guilty to federal charges and have been sentenced.
WRIGHTSON faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could be sentenced to 40 years, a $2,000,000 fine and at least 4 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.