News and Press Releases

Joseph Allen Wetzel Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court

Monday, November 26, 2012

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on November 26, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, JOSEPH ALLEN WETZEL, a 52-year-old resident of Great Falls, pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing has been set for March 4, 2013. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Betley, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

In July 2012, detectives from the Great Falls Police Department became alerted to a potential methamphetamine distribution ring in Great Falls. Detectives believed the methamphetamine was being brought to Montana from somewhere near Spokane, Washington.

On September 6, 2012, police received information from an anonymous caller, who stated Linda Reynolds was dealing methamphetamine out of her apartment in Great Falls. Based on this information, police executed a search warrant at Reynolds' apartment. Law enforcement learned Reynolds obtained methamphetamine from WETZEL, Mark Kness and another individual.

According to Reynolds, Kness brought his drug dealer Z.Z. to Reynolds' apartment in the winter of 2012. Z.Z. regularly went by "Washington" in Great Falls, because he traveled from the state of Washington. Reynolds observed methamphetamine deals between Kness and Z.Z. and Kness would brag about how the methamphetamine was of great quality.

Kness also introduced WETZEL to Z.Z. in the summer of 2012. WETZEL began to obtain methamphetamine directly from Z.Z.. According to Reynolds, she bought methamphetamine from WETZEL on numerous occasions and paid $1,700 per ounce.

WETZEL spoke with law enforcement and said Z.Z. supplied him with methamphetamine. In return, WETZEL dealt methamphetamine around Great Falls. WETZEL stated he had only recently began dealing methamphetamine and had received three-and-a-half ounces of methamphetamine from Z.Z.. But WETZEL also added he had received an average of three grams of methamphetamine a week since January 2012 from Kness. WETZEL possessed over five grams of actual (pure) methamphetamine during this time.

Kness and Reynolds pled guilty to federal charges.

WETZEL faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years and could be sentenced to 40 years, a $5,000,000 fine, and 4 years supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the Russell County Drug Task Force.



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