Christopher Maurice Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on January 13, 2011, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, CHRISTOPHER MAURICE, a 34-year-old resident of Auburn, Washington, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing has been set for April 21, 2011. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara J. Elliott, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On February 21, 2009, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper stopped MAURICE's truck for speeding on Interstate 90 near Bonner. During the stop, the trooper noticed that MAURICE exhibited characteristics consistent with that of a drug trafficker and provided inconsistent statements about his travels.
The trooper asked MAURICE for consent to search the vehicle and MAURICE agreed to allow a search and signed a consent form. User quantities of suspected marijuana and other related paraphernalia were located during an initial search of the cab area of the vehicle. Troopers then began to look in the rear undercarriage of the vehicle where they noticed what appeared to be an after-market metal, fabricated concealment box located above the spare tire. While the troopers were looking in that area, MAURICE verbally withdrew his consent to search.
On that same day, the trooper applied for and received a search warrant to search the vehicle. The trooper found that the metal fabricated trap box located on the rear undercarriage of the vehicle contained a clear plastic shrink-wrapped bag which further contained a clear/yellowish colored crystallized substance of approximately five ounces of suspected methamphetamine.
On February 24, 2009, MAURICE was interviewed and stated that the methamphetamine found in the vehicle belonged to C.W. and that he was to drop it off to C.W. in Billings, after he had obtained the methamphetamine in Utah on February 18th.
MAURICE stated that this most recent trip was the second or third trip he had taken to Utah to bring back "packages" for C.W. MAURICE was paid "$300 each way" by C.W. for making the trips and picked up "three packages" on each trip. MAURICE stated that each package would have been the same as the one seized, estimated to be five ounces.
MAURICE faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life, a $4,000,000 fine and at least 5 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.