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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 18, 2019

Billings meth trafficker sentenced to 12 years in prison

BILLINGS—A traffic stop that resulted in heroin being seized from the vehicle ultimately led to a Billings man getting sentenced to prison today for his role in a large methamphetamine conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Joe Roy Michael, 38, of Huntley, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Michael pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

The prosecution said in court records that in June 2018, the Montana Highway Patrol made a traffic stop on Michael’s rental vehicle. Michael’s statements conflicted with statements by his passenger and co-defendant, Joshua Clause. The trooper had a K9 dog sniff around the vehicle and the dog alerted to the presence of drugs. A search warrant was executed on the vehicle, and officers found 104 grams of heroin.

Investigators learned from multiple sources that Michael and Clause were selling large amounts of meth in Billings. One source admitted to stealing a pound of meth from Michael. Law enforcement arrested Michael in September 2018 in Townsend, and a search of his vehicle led to the seizure of meth and a pistol.

Clause told law enforcement that he and Michael had imported several hundred pounds of meth from California to Billings for distribution in 2018. A pound of meth is the equivalent of about 3,624 doses. Clause was sentenced in April to 15 years in prison for his conviction in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Rubich prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Billings Police Department.

The case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Clair Johnson Howard Public Information Officer 406-247-4623
Updated July 18, 2019