Justin Lane Flor Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Helena, on January 17, 2012, before Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell, JUSTIN LANE FLOR, a 34-year-old resident of Miles City, pled guilty to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Sentencing has been set for April 19, 2012. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph E. Thaggard, Paulette L. Stewart, and Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
A Cooperating Witness, CW1, would have testified that as far back as 2006, FLOR and others manufactured marijuana at an annual outdoor grow operation maintained on the premises of FLOR's home in Miles City. CW1 would have testified FLOR and others stored the marijuana at the FLOR home and distributed it to others, including CW1 and his/her customers.
A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent would have testified that, in July 2007, he observed over thirty marijuana plants growing in the yard of FLOR's home in Miles City.
DEA agents would have testified they purchased approximately four ounces of marijuana from a co-conspirator during a transaction that occurred at FLOR's residence on October 27, 2007.
A DEA agent would have testified that in October 2008, he observed a photograph from a Montana newspaper that showed more than 20 marijuana plants growing in the yard of FLOR's residence in Miles City.
CW1 would have testified that, in early 2009, CW1 and others, including those affiliated with the marijuana production facility at FLOR's residence, decided to expand the manufacture and distribution of marijuana in Montana to locations outside of Miles City. Ultimately, commencing in 2009, those involved in the conspiracy grew marijuana at FLOR's residence in Miles City and at least one location near Three Forks, as well as a series of large greenhouses located in Helena. Once manufactured, the marijuana was distributed from various points, including locations in Helena, Missoula, Billings, and FLOR's residence in Miles City.
A DEA agent would have testified that, in 2010, he, along with special agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) began an investigation of the conspiracy described in the preceding paragraphs. He would have testified the investigation continues as of this date.
Cooperating Witness 2 (CW2) would have testified that he/she assisted members of the conspiracy to manage money generated by the sale of the marijuana. CW2 would have testified that members of the conspiracy deposited money earned from the sale of marijuana manufactured during the conspiracy into bank accounts, including Wells Fargo Bank account number xxxxx4966. CW2 would have testified money from the Wells Fargo Bank Account was then transferred to another bank account or accounts. CW2 would have testified that, once in the latter accounts, the money was used to promote the unlawful conspiracy by providing compensation to the coconspirators or providing funds to finance the continued production and distribution of marijuana.
An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent would have testified he examined bank records related to the conspiracy. He would have testified that, ultimately, in excess of $1,000,000 was deposited in the various bank accounts employed to promote the conspiracy.
Numerous special agents of the DEA, IRS, ATF, FBI, EPA-CID, and the Department of Homeland Security would have testified that, on March 14, 2011, they searched FLOR's Miles City residence and the greenhouses located in Helena, as well as locations in Billings, Helena, and Missoula from which marijuana was distributed.
The agents would have testified they seized approximately 950 marijuana plants from the greenhouses in Helena. The agents would have testified they also seized a number of firearms from that facility as well.
The agents would have testified they seized marijuana ready for sale from distribution points maintained by the conspirators in Helena, Missoula, and Billings, as well as FLOR's home in Miles City. The agents would have testified they also seized a number of firearms from FLOR's home in Miles City.
DEA agents would have testified that they arrested FLOR at his Miles City home on June 29, 2011, following the return of the grand jury's initial indictment. The agents would have testified that, during the course of the arrest, they discovered more marijuana in FLOR's home and that the marijuana appeared to be intended for distribution.
FLOR faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could be sentenced to 40 years, a $4,000,000 fine and 4 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the following federal, state and local law enforcement agencies: the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Border Patrol, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These federal agencies were assisted by local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces, the Northwest Drug Task Force, the Kalispell Police Department, the Flathead County Sheriff's Office, the Missoula Police Department, the Missoula County Sheriff's Office, the Missoula High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Great Falls Police Department, the Cascade County Sheriff's Office, the Central Montana Drug Task Force, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office, the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Dillon Police Department, the Beaverhead County Sheriff's Office, the Park County Sheriff's Office, the Bozeman Police Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, the Belgrade Police Department, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Helena Police Department, the Lewis & Clark Sheriff's Office, and the Eastern Montana Drug Task Force - Miles City.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.