California man sentenced to 14 years in prison for trafficking meth in the Helena area, illegal possession of firearm
GREAT FALLS – A California man who admitted receiving packages of methamphetamine shipped to Helena for distribution was sentenced today to 14 years in prison and to five years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Michael Richard Browning, 34, of California, pleaded guilty on Feb. 9 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth and to prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that from October 2019 until July 2020 in Helena, Browning and others received packages of meth for distribution. In December 2019, Browning and co-defendant, Jennifer Davidson, picked up a package containing about one and one-half pounds of meth at FedEx. Law enforcement recovered the package of meth. The investigation further included recorded conversations of Browning bragging about using the mail to transport illegal drugs. The government further alleged that Browning, who had a previous felony conviction, sold a 9mm pistol to an individual in Helena. Davidson was sentenced to 54 months in prison for conviction in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, the USDOJ’s initiative to reduce violent crime. Through these initiatives, 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.