News and Press Releases


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on September 12, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, LUCAS ANTHONY LEENKNECHT, a 33-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. LEENKNECHT was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 60 months
  • Special Assessment: $200
  • Supervised Release: 4 years

LEENKNECHT was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to manufacture of marijuana and money laundering.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Seykora stated the government would have proved at trial the following:

From the summer of 2009 to July 13, 2011, LEENKNECHT manufactured or grew over 100 marijuana plants at his residence in Billings. A search warrant was executed at LEENKNECHT's residence where 64 marijuana plants in various stages of growth and over four pounds of harvested marijuana were found and seized. The harvested marijuana was found in LEENKNECHT's freezer. LEENKNECHT admitted to law enforcement that he had been manufacturing marijuana at his residence for at least two years.

The government's expert would testify that marijuana plants are generally grown in progressive states or cycles and in the normal course of events, well over 100 marijuana plants would have been manufactured over a two year period. Defendant confessed to this.

On April 9, 2008, LEENKNECHT made a $3,800 cash down payment to a local bank to purchase and finance a vehicle. The $3,800 was from drug proceeds. LEENKNECHT continued to use drug proceeds to make subsequent car payments through a series of financial transactions the bank.

During the search of his residence LEENKNECHT admitted to law enforcement that one-half of his annual income was from the sale of marijuana and that he used drug proceeds to pay bills.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that LEENKNECHT will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, LEENKNECHT does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.



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