BILLINGS – A Billings man convicted by a jury of trafficking crimes for his role in a large drug organization that brought hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine into Montana was sentenced today to 12 years and seven months in prison and to five years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
During a three-day trial, a jury found Nicholas John Montano, 35, guilty on Feb. 12, 2020 of conspiracy to possess meth with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute as charged in an indictment.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.
In court documents and evidence presented at trial, the government alleged that in the spring and summer of 2018, Montano received meth from Joshua Clause, who headed a large drug trafficking ring that imported hundreds of pounds of meth into Montana. Clause pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. After meeting Montano through another person, Clause contacted Montano, who began to receive meth from Clause for redistribution.
Clause told law enforcement that he supplied Montano with a quarter pound to one pound of meth each time he restocked. Clause and Montano also traveled once together to Bakersfield, California, where Clause got meth from a supplier. Clause supplied Montano with approximately 10 to 15 pounds of meth during their association. Fifteen pounds of meth is the equivalent of about 54,360 doses. Law enforcement officers arrested Montano in Billings on a federal warrant on Aug. 19, 2018 after he fled in a stolen vehicle and was tracked to an apartment complex.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin M. Rubich and Thomas K. Godfrey prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, Billings Police Department, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.
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