Kenneth Daniel Chrestensen Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on July 19, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, KENNETH DANIEL CHRESTENSEN, a 27-year-old resident of Whitefish, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing has been set for October 26, 2012. 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:
In approximately March of 2011, law enforcement agents received reliable information that several individuals from Kalispell were trafficking pound quantities of methamphetamine from the state of California to Flathead County.
In August of 2011, the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force (NWDTF), the Montana DOJ Division of Criminal Investigations (MDCI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) began conducting a joint investigation into the illegal methamphetamine distribution activities of those individuals, including CHRESTENSEN.
A Confidential Source ("CS1") was interviewed by law enforcement and admitted he/she was conducting methamphetamine trafficking business with CHRESTENSEN. CS1 stated that he/she received approximately 39 pounds of methamphetamine from CHRESTENSEN from the spring of 2010 through October 2011. He/she also admitted that on the night of his/her arrest, October 24, 2011, he/she traveled to CHRESTENSEN's residence and received one-half pound of methamphetamine.
CS1 stated that he/she received between 4 to 8 ounces of methamphetamine from CHRESTENSEN and/or CHRESTENSEN's employee on approximately 20 different occasions. He/she would always pay CHRESTENSEN in person for the methamphetamine that was received on the front. Finally, CS1 advised that when another person - CS3 - was distributing methamphetamine for CHRESTENSEN, CS3 would often deposit money (proceeds from the distribution of methamphetamine) into CHRESTENSEN's bank account. On August 22, 2011, agents conducted a recorded interview with CS2. CS2 said that he/she and another individual had made several trips to California and secured pound quantities of methamphetamine from CHRESTENSEN, which they brought back to Flathead County for distribution. CS2 also described an occasion where CHRESTENSEN was supposed to receive a large shipment of methamphetamine from California and distribute it to CS1.
On October 31, 2011, agents conducted a recorded interview with CS3 at the Flathead County Sheriff's Office. CS3 said that he/she was employed by CHRESTENSEN, CS1, and another person as muscle to assist in collecting drug debts from methamphetamine distributors and customers. CS3 met CHRESTENSEN through CS2. CS3 received quantities of methamphetamine from CHRESTENSEN. He/she often worked for CHRESTENSEN to collect the drug debt from CS1 for the previously-fronted methamphetamine. CS3 said that CS1 would often deposit large sums of money into Wells Fargo bank accounts in the state of Montana at the direction of CHRESTENSEN. CS3 also said that he/she was paid approximately 35-50 percent of what he/she was able to collect for the methamphetamine traffickers, either with cash, merchandise, or methamphetamine.
CHRESTENSEN faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life, a $10,000,000 fine, and 5 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Northwest Drug Task Force, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations.