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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 20, 2018

Belgrade Man Sentenced to Prison for Drug Offense

MISSOULA – Richard Lee Clark, a 59-year-old resident of Belgrade, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison followed by four years supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.  U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen handed down the sentence.

In late September 2016, investigators from the Missouri River Drug Task Force used a confidential informant to purchase methamphetamine.  The confidential informant used Shannon Leavitt to arrange a drug deal.  On October 3, 2016, investigators again used a confidential informant to purchase seven grams of methamphetamine from Leavitt.  The informant and Leavitt went to her father’s, Richard Clark, house to pick up the methamphetamine.  During that transaction, Leavitt told the informant that she was in business of dealing meth with her father Richard Clark.

Investigators also learned that methamphetamine was being shipped through the United States Mail to the Clark/Leavitt address.  Investigators were then notified by the U.S. Postal Service about an express mail package being shipped to that address.  Investigators had a K9 from the Bozeman Police Department sniff the package.  The K9 positively alerted on the package for the presence of drugs.  Investigators obtained a search warrant for Clark/Leavitt residence.  They then delivered the package to the residence.  Later that afternoon, Richard Clark returned to the home, retrieved the package, and went inside.  Investigators then executed the search warrant at the house and found evidence of drug dealing.  When they searched the Express Mail package, investigators found that it contained a candle and a tennis ball.  There was an obvious hole in the tennis ball and investigators pulled a package out of it that contained 10.4 grams of methamphetamine.  The candle was cut open which revealed the bottom half had been hollowed out and then resealed in a manner which made it look as though it had not been tampered with.  The hollowed out portion of the candle held a package with 29.1 grams of methamphetamine. 

Leavitt was interviewed after the search and admitted her role in the conspiracy.  She said she was getting an ounce of methamphetamine a week for the past month from her source in Salt Lake City.  She further said that she had previously driven to meet her source halfway between Montana and Salt Lake to get methamphetamine.  Leavitt also stated that she would send her source the money through Western Union or Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart.  Clark was also interviewed and said that he had been getting meth from the same source of supply as had been identified by Leavitt.  Clarke said that he had ordered four ounce packages of meth from his source himself and that at one point, his source came to Montana to meet Clarke.  He said he would get the money to his source by wiring it to him and would pay $550 for an ounce. Clarke also stated that he had sold or given meth to people who had come by the residence. 

Clarke was held accountable for a total drug weight of 158.2 grams of methamphetamine which amounts to 1265 individual doses of the drug.

Shannon Leavitt has also pled guilty to her role in the drug conspiracy and was sentenced on January 19, 2018 to 60 months imprisonment.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan R. Whittaker and investigated by the FBI, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, and the United States Postal Service.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Contact: 
KERI LEGGETT Acting Public Information Officer (406) 761-7715
Updated July 20, 2018