United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that an Alberton, Montana, man convicted of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Aiding and Abetting was sentenced on June 30, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange. His accomplice, a Columbia, California, woman, was sentenced on the same charges on July 2, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange.
Claudio Puccio, age 47, was sentenced to 11 months in custody, 2 years of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Beth Swank, age 53, was sentenced to 10 months in custody, 2 years of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
Puccio and Swank were indicted by a federal grand jury on January 15, 2014. Puccio pled guilty on April 9, 2014, and Swank pled guilty on April 15, 2014.
The conviction stems from an incident on November 23, 2013, when a South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper stopped Puccio and Swank for speeding. After interviewing both passengers separately, the trooper had reason to believe the vehicle might contain drugs. He deployed his service dog who alerted to the odor of drugs coming from the vehicle. The trooper searched two suitcases and found vacuum sealed bags of suspected marijuana, pucks of suspected hashish, $55,340 in cash, and 11 cell phones. The substances were tested and confirmed to be marijuana, with a weight of 11.726 pounds. The pucks tested positive for hashish, with a weight of 1.4502 pounds.
This case was investigated by the Division of Criminal Investigation and the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Miller prosecuted the case.
Puccio and Swank were immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.