Nicholas Ray Anderson Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on July 17, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, NICHOLAS RAY ANDERSON, a 26-year-old resident of Bozeman, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. Sentencing has been set for October 17, 2012. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On July 20, 2010, a Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office deputy initiated a traffic stop on a black 2010 Mercedes Benz SUV after running the license plate and determining that the owner had a valid arrest warrant. The owner of the vehicle provided a false name to the deputy but ultimately admitted the individual's name. A narcotics-detecting K-9 was called to the scene, and positively alerted on the vehicle for the presence of narcotic odors.
The vehicle was impounded pending a search warrant application. A subsequent search yielded airline tickets, a cell phone, documents, $14,154 in cash, and user amounts of marijuana.
Pursuant to the search warrant, detectives had the cellular telephone seized from the vehicle analyzed. The contents revealed that the owner of the vehicle had been involved with selling multiple pounds of marijuana, as well as transporting tens of thousands of dollars in cash. Some of the text messages on the phone blatantly discussed prices for pounds of marijuana, smuggling bulk cash via the airlines, having bulk cash from drug proceeds deposited into bank accounts, and dealing marijuana to the Indian reservations in Montana. According to the text messages on the phone marijuana was distributed to Browning, Polson, Crow Agency, as well as Havre, St. Ignatius, Great Falls, Missoula, Cut Bank, Lolo, and other places throughout Montana.
One of the subjects having drug-related communications with the owner of the vehicle stopped in Yellowstone County was ANDERSON of Bozeman. ANDERSON was interviewed by law enforcement and admitted to law enforcement that during the course of the conspiracy he personally received and distributed between 50 and 90 pounds of marijuana. ANDERSON also told law enforcement that he allowed his source of supply for the marijuana to use his home in Bozeman as a "stash" house for larger quantities of marijuana. ANDERSON reported a duffle bag full of marijuana in heat sealed bags would be delivered to his house where it would remain until the source or another individual would arrive to pick it up. ANDERSON estimated that the duffle bag contained 10 pounds of marijuana each time it was stored at his home.
The evidence would prove that more than 100 kilograms of marijuana was possessed with the intent to distribute by ANDERSON and his co-conspirators during the course of the conspiracy and that it was reasonably foreseeable to ANDERSON that the conspiracy involved more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.
ANDERSON faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years and could be sentenced to 40 years, a $5,000,000 fine, and 5 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force.