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Justice News

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

Friday, January 19, 2018

Belgrade Woman Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Drug Offense

BUTTE – Shannon Marie Leavitt, a 30-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 Leavitt to arrange the drug deal.  Again on October 3, 2016, investigators again used a confidential informant to purchase methamphetamine from Leavitt.  The informant and Leavitt went to her father’s, Richard Clarke, house to pick up the methamphetamine.  During that transaction, Leavitt told the informant that she was in business of dealing meth with her father.


Investigators also learned that methamphetamine was being shipped through the United States Mail to the Clarke/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 Clarke/Leavitt residence.  They then delivered the package to the residence.  Later that afternoon, Richard Clarke 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. 


Richard Clarke has also pled guilty to his role in the drug conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 21, 2017.


The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan R. Whittaker and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, and the United States Postal Service.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to identify those responsible for significant violent crime in Montana.  A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a recently reinvigorated Department of Justice program that has proven to be successful in reducing violent crime.  Today’s sentencing is part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program.

Drug Trafficking
Project Safe Neighborhoods
KERI LEGGETT Acting Public Information Officer (406) 761-7715
Updated January 23, 2018