United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced today that Kenton Perry, age 32, of Sioux Falls, appeared before United States District Judge Roberto A. Lange on January 24, 2011, and pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Another member of the conspiracy, Melissa Anne Rieger, age 23, of Buffalo, was sentenced by Judge Lange, also on January 24, 2011, to serve 12 months and 1 day in custody, 2 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund. Rieger had previously pled guilty to the conspiracy charge on November 1, 2010.
These events follow the recent sentencing of the conspiracy's leader, William Derek Leaver. Leaver, age 29, of Sioux Falls, was sentenced by Judge Lange on January 10, 2011, to 87 months of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, a $10,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund. Leaver had previously pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana.
Leaver and six others were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 11, 2010. The Superseding Indictment charged that in late March or early April of 2009, Leaver traveled from Sioux Falls to Las Vegas, Nevada, to arrange a source of marijuana for his plan to distribute multi-pound quantities of marijuana in the District of South Dakota.
Subsequently, continuing until at least December 16, 2009, on approximately 24 occasions, two or more individuals, at the direction of Leaver, traveled from South Dakota to Las Vegas to purchase marijuana intended for distribution in South Dakota. Leaver provided these individuals with envelopes of cash for expenses, payment to the drivers, and payment to the Las Vegas marijuana source. Approximately 175 pounds of marijuana were transported from Las Vegas to South Dakota at the direction of Leaver.
Leaver had the marijuana delivered to an apartment in Sioux Falls where he divided the marijuana into distribution quantities which he provided to others, including Nicole Rae Bahrenfuss, Richard Wayne Cook, and Michael James Gorman. These individuals received the marijuana through a "front," or on credit, and paid Leaver after having sold their allotment.
“These prosecutions have effectively dismantled a Sioux Falls group established to import large amounts marijuana from Las Vegas and distribute it in the community,” US Attorney Johnson said. “I am proud of our office’s efforts and the professional work of our law enforcement partners.”
The disposition for others involved in the conspiracy is as follows:
Richard Wayne Cook -- age 34, of Sioux Falls was sentenced by Judge Lange on November 22, 2010, for his part in the same conspiracy. Cook was sentenced to 57 months in custody, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund.
Nicole Rae Bahrenfuss -- age 32, of Sioux Falls was sentenced by Judge Lange on December 21, 2010. Bahrenfuss was sentenced to 37 months in custody, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund.
Michael James Gorman -- age 24, of Sioux Falls was sentenced by Judge Lange on November 22, 2010, for his part in the same conspiracy. Gorman was sentenced to 42 months in custody, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund.
Shaun Michael Dye -- 29, of Las Vegas, Nevada, pled guilty to the conspiracy charges on January 5, 2011, and will be sentenced on March 28, 2011.
Kenton Perry will be sentenced on April 11, 2011. He faces a maximum penalty upon conviction of not more than 20 years of imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both; 3 years of supervised release; and a special assessment of $100 to the Victim Assistance Fund.
The investigation was conducted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Ted L. McBride.